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Edited by Charles William Burkett, recently Director 

of Experiment Station, Kansas State Agricultural 

College j Editor of American Agriculturist 

By Charles S. Plumb, Ohio State University 


By Eugene Davenport, University of Illinois 


By Benjamin Minge Duggar, Cornell University 


By Cyril George Hopkins, University of Illinois 


By John Henry Robinson, Editor of Farm-Poultry 

Other volumes in preparation 


Owned by Grove Hill Poultry Yards, Waltham, Massachusetts 
(Photograph by Schilling) 











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The method of treatment adopted in this book is the simple, 
scientific method, that of presenting essential facts in logical 
order. The following of this method has led to some departures 
from the conventional way of presenting poultry topics. The unity 
of the poultry group is here conceived as essential and arising from 
the nature of the birds, rather than as artificial and relating to the 
purposes for which they are used ; and I have tried to give practical 
effect to my very strong conviction that permanent poultry culture 
must be a feature in permanent agriculture, and that each of the 
common kinds of poultry has its peculiar place in agriculture. 
Hence the methods of managing the different kinds of poultry are 
not stated separately, as has been usual, but topics are discussed 
in their own appropriate order with reference to all the kinds. This 
arrangement emphasizes the things which apply alike to all kinds 
of poultry, and makes it easy to show that good practice is simple 
and that the same treatment will usually answer, in whole or in 
part, for several different kinds, thus lightening the work of the 
poultry keeper. It is believed also that by this arrangement of 
matter the student or reader is given, with instruction in the details 
of methods, a more comprehensive view of the subject as a whole 
than by the usual mode of presenting it. 

To the best of my ability the book gives the consensus of author- 
itative opinion of a many-sided subject. In appraising this con- 
sensus I have had regard alike to practical authority, expressed in 
the views and practice of good poultrymen, and to scientific authority, 
found in the bulletins and other papers of those instructors and 
investigators who have been foremost in reducing to order the 
confused mass of common knowledge of poultry culture. To the 
practical poultrymen and fanciers I am most indebted for facts ; to 
the instructors and investigators, for interpretations of facts and for 

*-% /- n^ r* n r* 


ideas and suggestions as to the presentation of the subject in such 
a way as to meet the requirements of formal instruction. 

To give credit, in the proper connection, to each of the many 
whose experiences and opinions have contributed something to a 
work which represents a life interest in poultry and more than a 
score of years of intimate business and professional acquaintance 
with poultry culture would be impossible. So it has seemed best to 
make few direct references in the text, but to give in the appendix 
a classified list of the literature of the subject. 

The illustrations not credited to others are by the author. 
Although many of the photographs and drawings were made for 
this book, the elaborate scheme of illustration adopted was practi- 
cable only because I already had a large private collection of pho- 
tographs from which to select, and because I had access to the 
files of photographs which had been used in Farm- Poultry . Those 
from the latter source the publishers have kindly allowed me to 
use, with this general acknowledgment. 




INTRODUCTION . V * ......... 

Need of instruction Scope of instruction, i Limits of instruc- 
tion, 2 Conditions of student practice, 3 Collateral reading 
Technical terms and definitions, 4 




Classes of domestic birds Kinds of poultry Common char- 
acters of poultry, 5 The elementary poultry character, 7 
Values of poultry, 8 Properties of eggs, 10 Services of poultry 
in agriculture Recreation in poultry culture, 1 1 


Antiquity of poultry culture Pre-modern poultry culture, 12 
Persistence of primitive conditions explained Quality of 
common poultry, 13 Improved native stocks Interest in 
distinctive types, 14 First effects of acquaintance with improved 
breeds, 15 Development of the American type, 16 Artificial 
incubation, 17 Exhibitions Poultry literature of the early 
period, 18 Modern poultry literature Journalism, 19 Books, 
20 Instruction and investigation, 21 Individual influence, 22 
Trade spirit, 23 


First statistics of poultry, 24 Present value of poultry products 
in the United States, 25 The poultry industry, 26 Trend of 
development Natural division of the poultry industry Limita- 
tions on development, 27 Permanent poultry culture a branch 
of agriculture, 28 Poultry culture a necessary feature in agri- 
culture, 29 Poultry culture a diversified industry Branches 
of poultry culture, 30 Egg farming, 32 Factory methods in- 
poultry culture, 33 Farm methods, 35 The Petaluma district, 
40 Broiler farming, 43 Roaster growing, 45 Duck growing, 
48 Goose growing, 54 Turkey growing, 58 Other kinds of 
poultry Fancy poultry, 59 Profitable combinations in poultry 
culture, 6 1 Combinations with poultry Supply and demand, 62 






Common tasks Hard problems, 64 Relation of natural con- 
ditions to poultry problems Differences between practical 
and theoretical problems, 66 The beginner's most difficult 
problem, 67 



Type denned Type and breed, 69 Breed type Breed divi- 
sions Breed relations Economic classification of fowls, 70 
Class properties, 71 Necessary differences in conditions and 
methods, 72 

VI. PROBLEMS OF LOCATION . ...... . '.. . . . .. 74 

Phases of the question of location Climate, 74 Special 
features Soils and drainage, 76 Sunlight Ventilation 
Markets, 77 Transportation, 78 


Definitions General methods Essence of system, 79 Ordi- 
nary farm methods Extensive systems, 80 The Rfrode Island 
colony system, 81 Ordinary town methods, 84 Intensive 
systems, 85 Comparison of extensive and intensive systems, 87 
Combining advantages of the two systems, 91 Temporary 
range Weakest point in intensive systems, 94 

VIII. YARDS AND FENCES . . . , . . . . ... . . 95 

Yards a necessary evil, 95 Height of fence, 96 Area of yard, 
97 Alternating yards Fence material, 98 Openings in 
fences, 100 


Prime considerations in shelters, 103 Principal requirements 
for comfort Earliest form of poultry shelter Simplest shelter 
made for poultry, 104 Poultry in owner's dwelling Tight 
houses, 108 Ventilation in tight houses Beginning of the 
fresh-air movement, 112 Houses with open fronts No best 
house, 114 Floor dimensions, 116 Height of structures 



Depth of structures, 118 Standard-size poultry-house unit 
Length of poultry houses, 119 Styles of roof, 121 Walls 

Floors, 125 Eccentric features to be avoided Materials 
for poultry structures, 126 Quality of construction, 127 Pres- 
ervation of structures Structures for different kinds of poultry, 
I2 o, Ancient and modern coops, 131 Coops for indoor brood- 
ers and growing chicks, 132 Small houses, stationary and 
portable, 134 Colony poultry houses, 136 Cloth-front houses, 
137 Late styles of poultry houses, 141 Long poultry houses, 
!45 Stages in construction of a long poultry house, 148 
Fattening and killing houses Brooder houses, 149 Cockerel 
house, 153 Poultry houses on hillsides, 154 


Roosts, 156 Droppings boards, 158 Roosting closets, 159 
Nests, 1 60 Feed troughs, 163 Feed hoppers, 165 Drinking 
vessels Drinking fountains, 166 Dusting boxes Common 
tools, 167 Cooking apparatus Food mixers, 168 Bone cut- 
ters Hay cutters. Root cutters, 169 Carts for poultry work, 
170 Egg testers Nest eggs Transportation on the poultry 
plant, 171 

XL NUTRITION OF POULTRY . * . . . ^ . . . . . . 172 

Nutritive requirements Nutritive organs, 172 Differences in 
beaks and crops Natural foods and feeding habits of poultry, 
175 Common poultry foods Composition of foods, 178 
Nutrient ratio, 180 Expression of nutritive values, 181 

XII. POULTRY FOODS . .. ,..;>. \ . .... . . . . 183 

Wheat, 183 Wheat screenings Low-grade flour Middlings, 
184 Bran Stale Bread Corn, 185 Corn meal, 186 Corn 
bran and corn middlings Corn and cob meal Hominy meal 

Gluten meal and gluten feed Whole oats, 187 Oatmeal 

Oat bran and oat feed Oat middlings Sprouted oats 
Barley, 188 Barley screenings Barley meal Malt sprouts, 
Dried brewer's grains Rye, 189 Mixed mill feeds, 190 
Buckwheat Buckwheat by-products Rice, 191 Sorghum 
seed Broom-corn seed Flaxseed and cotton seed, 192 
Ground linseed Linseed meal Cottonseed by-products, 193 
Peas and beans Miscellaneous seeds, 194 Green foods, 195 

Ensilage Clovers and alfalfa, 196 Clover meal and alfalfa 
meal Potatoes, 197 Beets Turnips Onions, 198 Apples 

Green bones Meat by-products, 199 Fresh fish, 200 Fish 
scrap Shellfish Milk, 201 Cheese Milk albumin 
Eggs, 202 Mineral foods, 203 Dry bone Oyster shells, 204 

Charcoal, 205 




A ration defined A balanced ration, 206 A balanced ration 
an average ration, 207 Common practice in feeding How 
methods of feeding are determined, 208 Rations for special 
purposes, 210 Different rations for different kinds of poultry, 
211 Same ration for young and old poultry of the same kind 

Forcing rations, 212 Special preparation of food Mashes, 
214 Standard mashes, 217 Popular standard mashes approxi- 
mately balanced rations Errors in use of wet mashes Dry 
mashes, 218 Dangers in use of dry mashes, 220 Rations for 
fowls, 221 Maine Experiment Station rations, 224 Ontario 
Experiment Station rations, 228 West Virginia Experiment 
Station ration Kansas Experiment Station rations, 229 Cor- 
nell Experiment Station rations, 230 Rations for turkeys, 
peafowls, guineas, and pheasants, 233 Rations for ducks, 235 

Rations for geese, 237 

XIV. INCUBATION .".,'". ... ,..'. . 238 

Relation of incubation to other operations The egg, 238 A 
fertile egg, 239 Function of heat in incubation, 240 Antiquity 
of artificial methods The problem in artificial incubation, 241 

Value of both methods of incubation Hatching by natural 
methods Broodiness, 242 System in natural incubation, 243 
Nests for sitting hens, 244 Nest material Selection of 
eggs, 245 Number of eggs in setting Keeping hens confined 
to nests, 246 Food of the sitting hen Cleanliness Testing 
eggs, 248 Period of incubation Effects of chilling on eggs, 
250 Treatment of eggs at hatching time, 251 Helping birds 
out of the shell Conditions of good hatching, 252 Hatching 
by artificial methods Responsibility of the operator, 253 
Selection of an incubator, 254 Manufacturers' directions for 
operating incubators, 255 Selection of eggs for artificial' incu- 
bation, 257 Preliminary regulation of heat Routine work of 
operation, 258 Factors in artificial incubation, 259 Source of 
moisture in incubation Use of ventilation, 260 Measuring 
ventilation, 262 Management of incubator at hatching Ac- 
counting for results, 263 Causes of poor hatches, 264 Com- 
mon errors in operating incubators, 265 


Growth a natural process Constitution inherited Initial se- 
lection, 266 Preservation of vitality in young poultry, 267 
Overcrowding the great cause of trouble in growing poultry, 
268 What constitutes overcrowding, 269 Overcrowding 
mostly unnecessary, 274 Warmth the first requirement 
Brooding temperatures, 275 Regulation of heat in artificial 
brooding, 276 Methods of artificial brooding, 277 Lamp- 
heated brooders Pipe brooder systems, 278 Temperature 



in artificial brooding Regulation of temperature in brooders, 
280 Period of artificial brooding Protection from enemies, 
282 Protection from parasites, 283 Growth the test of the 
work of the grower Rate of growth, 284 Separation of sexes 
while growing Separation according to age and size, 287 
Disturbances to be avoided, 288 


Egg production distinguished from reproduction Reproductive 
organs of the female, 289 Laying normally follows completion 
of growth, 290 Causes of retarded laying, 291 Conditions of 
egg production, 293 Duration of laying periods, 297 Molting 
and egg production Variability of egg yields, 298 Selection 
of stock for laying, 299 Effect of age on production, 300 


Fattening a finishing process Common practice, 301 Simple 
methods of fattening, 302 Causes of failure in finishing by 
ordinary methods, 305 Special fattening plants using ordinary 
methods, 306 Special finishing methods Crate feeding, 307 

Cramming, 308 Caponizing, 309 


Dressed poultry Fasting Killing, 311 Wringing the neck 

Cutting off the head, 312 Sticking, 313 Scalding, 314 
Dry picking, 316 Scalding and dry picking compared Market 
requirements as to picking, 318 Importance of proper cooling, 
319 Shaping Grading, 320 Packing, 321 Standard sizes 
of boxes, 322 Feathers Shipping live poultry Sorting and 
grading, 324 Eggs Cleaning eggs, 325 Sorting eggs for 
color Grading eggs for size, 326 Egg cases and boxes, 327 


Poultry keepers and middlemen, 329 Collection and distribu- 
tion of poultry products Eggs, 330 Live poultry Dressed 
poultry Relative advantages of selling poultry alive and dressed, 
333 _ Feathers, 334 Manure Cooperative selling of poultry 
products, 335 

Hygiene and sanitation, 337 Causes of disease Constitutional 
causes of disease Dietetic causes of disease, 338 Environ- 
mental causes of disease Contagious diseases Symptoms of 
disease, 339 Special symptoms plain to ordinary observation 
General treatment of disease, 340 Injuries Internal parasites, 
341 External parasites Vices, 342 






Original type of the domestic fowl, 344 Types of domestic 
fowls, 346 Game types, 347 Aseel, 348 English Game, 349 

Cornish Indian, 350 Malay, 351 Laying types, 352 Lay- 
ing breeds, 353 Mediterranean laying types, 3 54 Italian stocks, 
355 Spanish section of Mediterranean class, 362 Other races 
of the Mediterranean type, 367 Mid-European laying types, 368 

Primitive crested types, 375 European meat types, 376 
English meat types, 377 French and Belgian meat types, 380 

The Asiatic meat type, 384 Divisions of the Asiatic meat 
type, 387 General-purpose types, 394 Earliest American 
types, 397 Origin of the Barred Plymouth Rock, 398 The 
Wyandottes, 406 Rhode Island Reds, 413 The Orping- 
tons, 416 Continental European general-purpose types, 423 
Deformed types, 424 Bantams, 425 

Turkeys, 429 Peafowls, 436 Guineas Pheasants, 437 


The common wild duck, 438 Common domestic ducks Im- 
proved races of ducks Meat types, 439 Laying-type ducks, 
447 Common ornamental ducks, 448 

XXIV. GEESE AND SWANS .: . . . . . 449 

Economic races of geese Common geese, 449 Improved 
breeds of geese, 451 Asiatictypes of geese, 453 The American 
Wild Goose, 457 Ornamental geese Swans, 458 


Kinds of reproduction Likeness in asexual reproduction 
Relations of body and germ, 459 Beginning of variation The 
function of sex, 461 Likeness in sexual reproduction, 462 
Relation of sex to inheritance, 463 Prepotency, 464 Pre- 
potency and selection Transmission of prepotency, 466 
Present and latent characters Alternate inheritance, reversion, 
and atavism, 467 Laws of heredity Gallon's law, 468 
Mendel's law, 469 Correlation of characters, 471 



Adaptability of poultry breeding Length of life and breeding 
value, 476 Relative value of male and female, 477 Selection, 
478 Poultry standards, 479 Relative value of characters in 
selection, 480 Systems of selection, 481 Essential characters 

Substantial characters, 482 Superficial characters, 483 

Collective selection and compensation in breeding, 484 Inbreed- 
ing and line breeding Close breeding, 485 The rule of good 
practice, 486 Danger of new blood Age and breeding'quality, 
487 Ratio of females to males, 488 Period of fertility, 489 
Regulation of sex, 490 Mating systems Details of matings, 
491 Mating for egg production, 492 Mating for table poultry, 
495 Selection for shape in mating Standard poultry, 504 
Color matings of poultry, 507 




Primary poultry exhibitions, 535 Modern poultry exhibitions, 
536 Educational aspects of exhibitions, 537 Nature of corn- 
petition, 538 Financing a show, 539 Management of a show, 
540 Quality of exhibits Judges, 541 Methods of judging 
Classification, 542 Sweepstakes prizes Special exhibits, 548 

Balancing exhibits Practical exhibits, 549 Suggestions 
for improving shows, 550 Institutes at poultry shows, 552 
College poultry exhibitions, 553 


Selecting for exhibition, 554 Conditioning, 555 Grooming 
and faking, 557 Ethics of conditioning Details of artificial 
fitting, 560 Shipment to shows, 563 Care of birds at shows 
Returning birds from shows, 564 


Judging defined Objects of judging, 566 Methods of judging, 
567 Factors in score-card judging, 568 Limitations of the 
score card, 569 Use of score cards, 571 Uniformity in judging 

Recognition of utility values in judging exhibition poultry 

Judging poultry products, 574 





Composite character of the trade, 576 Values in pure-bred 
poultry and eggs, 577 Profits from fancy poultry Peculiarities 
of the trade, 578 Confidence the basis of trade, 579 Advertis- 
ing, 580 Correspondence Terms and obligation, 581 Scales 
of prices, 583 Packing and shipping, 585 

BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . . ". . . . . . .-,' .. 5 8 7 

INDEX > . 597 



Need of instruction. The practice of poultry culture is an art or 
a craft or a combination of art and craft according to the purpose 
for which it is pursued and the taste and skill of those engaged in 
it. A workman may attain great proficiency in many operations 
merely through skill in imitation. Such a workman, however, 
must work always after a model or under the direction of one 
familiar with all phases of his art or craft and thoroughly under- 
standing its principles. In any enterprise engaging large numbers 
of people, only a small proportion of these need be qualified to 
oversee and direct the work ; but as the number of persons 
engaged diminishes, the proportion understanding the processes 
involved and their relations must increase, until, in such occupa- 
tions as farming and housekeeping, each husbandman and house- 
wife must be able to do and to direct the doing of a variety of 
operations, adapting and adjusting all to the general result sought. 

The relation of this fact to agricultural and technical education 
has not been sufficiently emphasized. Considering it here only in 
its application to poultry culture, it is plain that a general knowl- 
edge of the subject is as necessary and as useful to one whose 
plans contemplate perhaps the maintenance of a flock of a few 
hundred fowls on the farm as to one who intends to undertake 
operations on a large scale. Both require the same preparation, as 
far as preparation can be given by book and class instruction. 

Scope of instruction. The subject includes a great variety of 
topics. An accurate general knowledge of the subject requires 
such familiarity with all these topics that the relations of the 
various phenomena of poultry culture will be promptly recognized 
and effects estimated with approximate correctness whenever there 


is occasion to consider them. It is from inability to do this that 
poultry keepers who have become proficient in a special line 
carried on under particular conditions so often make serious mis- 
takes when conditions change or when they make departures from 
methods with which they are familiar. As it is not possible for a 
student during the period of a course of instruction, or even in 
some years of practice, to acquire such acquaintance with all phases 
of the subject empirically, a textbook must so present the subject 
that historical fact and description and discussion of materials and 
methods will, as far as possible, compensate for lack of experience. 
Thus a textbook must especially emphasize many things that do 
not strongly appeal to the novice most interested in what he can 
immediately put into practice. 

The limits of instruction. ^The quantity of theory of this subject 
which one may assimilate and the rate at which principles may be 
mastered vary with the nature of the matter as well as with the 
preparation and capacity of the student. 

Thus a thorough knowledge of the principles of poultry-house 
construction may be acquired from books alone in a comparatively 
short time, and with knowledge so acquired a person with a little 
skill in carpentry may design and build a house in every respect 
as good as any experienced poultryman would make, provided 
always that the principles are understood and correctly applied. But 
in feeding, a working knowledge of principles is rarely, if ever, 
acquired without practice. Practice in feeding sufficient to assist 
to a good understanding of principles can be had in a few months 
or even in a few weeks. In such matters as breeding, real practice 
cannot be given in connection with courses of instruction. Long- 
course students who are familiar with the general principles of 
breeding and their application to domestic animals should have no 
difficulty in understanding their applications to poultry. The short- 
course student who lacks this preparation, and who has had no ex- 
perience in breeding, gets at best but a limited appreciation of 
principles from the condensed statement of them appropriate in 
a general treatise on poultry. The student at home is even more 
heavily handicapped. As a rule such an understanding of the 
principles of breeding as every breeder should have is only acquired 
after thorough study and long practice. 



The three cases mentioned are representative of classes of topics 
in which book instruction alone, even when insufficient, may be of 
considerable value without practice. The practice of poultry culture 
includes also many operations (as killing and dressing poultry, 
caponizing, etc.) difficult to describe in words even when de- 
scriptions are supplemented with illustrations. Actual skill in these 
is not, however, essential to a general knowledge of the subject. 

Conditions of student practice. In an agricultural college or 
school, students are given practice under the supervision of an in- 
structor. As a rule the amount of actual practice by each student 
is no more (often less) than he would have at home with a small 
flock ; but each student may observe the practice of other students 
and benefit by the instructor's suggestions to all. Students at 
these institutions have the further advantage of observation of the 
work at the permanent plant of the department, conducted usually 
by a skillful manager assisted by advanced students. As it is not 
generally feasible to make practice correspond chronologically with 
the work in the classroom, much of it is at first done by direction, 
just as it would be on a poultry plant where formal instruction was 
not given. 

Those who use this book in connection with home practice will 
find it a good plan to read it in order and then give special atten- 
tion to topics related to the work of the season. The amount of 
practice will depend, of course, on the extent of their operations. 
It is well to remember that if work is projected on a scale out of 
proportion to knowledge and skill, the cost of practice (through 
losses) may be far beyond its value. Also, while there is a certain 
benefit to be derived from unsuccessful effort and unprofitable 
experience, it is of an indefinite and rather negative quality. 

The student at work for a successful poultry keeper has the best 
of opportunities for practice and observation. This is true, though 
his employer or superintendent has a narrow view of conditions 
and methods beyond his own experience, and though the methods 
used are at points defective. It may be accepted as a certainty that 
wherever success with poultry is continuous, most of the essentials 
of good practice are observed. 

The student who learns, or has good cause to suppose, that a 
poultry plant on which he is engaged is maintained from other 


sources than the annual income from poultry will, as a rule, find it 
to his advantage to leave it ; for he is not likely to learn there to 
do a profitable day's work in a day, and he is likely to acquire 
habits of work and an attitude toward his work which permanently 
impair his efficiency. 

Collateral reading. Only carefully selected standard books and 
papers should be used. Indiscriminate reading of poultry literature 
is a hindrance oftener than a help. The fictions of poultry culture 
are mostly plausible and generally more alluring than the facts, 
and the usual result of much reading in advance of a thorough 
grounding in principles is an accumulation of obsolete and imprac- 
ticable ideas. The danger of this is greatest to the independent 
student, who lacks the opportunity of the college student to refer 
to instructors for opinions on matters which attract his attention as 
he reads. In the present state of knowledge of the subject it 
cannot be expected that even those who may be classed as good 
authorities will agree at all points, but the seeming disagreements 
of authorities are often due to partial statements, and disappear 
when a full statement is made. On the whole there is little of 
direct importance to a novice in poultry culture about which 
authorities are not substantially agreed. 

Technical terms and definitions. These have hitherto been 
given scant attention by writers on poultry. Most of the terms 
have been taken from common usage and are generally very loosely 
used. Many terms constantly used in a technical sense have been 
neither defined nor applied with precision by writers on the sub- 
ject. In this book such terms as require definition will be defined 
either in the text or in the footnotes, when first used, and each 
term used thereafter only in accordance with the definition. 



Classes of domestic birds. 1 Birds in domestication are divided 
according to their relations to men into three general classes : 
Poultry, Pigeons, and 'Cage Birds. This book is concerned with 
pigeons and cage birds only in so far as discussion of the con- 
trasting characters of poultry and the other two classes serves to 
illustrate the nature and emphasize the usefulness of poultry. 

Kinds of poultry. The word " poultry" 2 is the name of a 
group of domestic birds so different in some respects that from a 
naturalist's standpoint their inclusion in one group seems arbitrary 
and artificial, warranted perhaps by convenience but not justified 
on any scientific principle. Besides the more familiar kinds, as to 
the position of which in this group there is no disagreement, a few 
others not so well known are included in it by authorities on poul- 
try culture. The group as thus made up includes fowls, 1 turkeys, 
guineas, peafowls, pheasants, ostriches, ducks, geese, and swans. 

Common characters of poultry. Birds of the poultry group are 
alike in the several characteristics which determine adaptability to, 
and a high degree of usefulness in, domestication. 

I . They are terrestrial in habit, some naturally, others as a 
result of modifications of structure under domestication. Fowls, 
turkeys, guineas, peafowls, and pheasants are land birds with no 
power of sustained flight. The aquatic habit of ducks and geese of 

1 Bird is the generic term applying to all feathered creatures. Fowl, which 
once had as wide significance, is now applied to the most common kind of domes- 
tic bird, to cocks and hens, and in dead poultry especially to hens. 

2 The term applies to living birds and also to their flesh as food for man. It is 
properly collective in meaning, for though used to refer to a single kind of birds, 
when so used it does riot identify that kind, but merely indicates that it is one of 
the several kinds comprised in the poultry group. 



the species that have been domesticated, though conspicuous, is 
not their principal habit. They are essentially land birds. Ducks 
and geese in their natural state are also aerial in habit, though the 
power of sustained flight seems to be used only for purpose of 
migration. In domestication ducks and geese within a few genera- 
tions lose the power of flight to such an extent that they are the 
most easily restrained of all domestic creatures. 

2. They are omnivorous feeders, like man, and hence may be 
fed largely on food wasted by man (in manufacture as well as in con- 
sumption) and on foods wasted by or not available for the larger 
domestic animals. The different kinds of poultry vary in the pro- 
portions of different kinds of food which they normally take. This 
is of further advantage to man, as will be shown in Chapter XI. 

3. They are docile in disposition and readily adapt themselves 
to the conditions of life which domestication imposes. Of the many 
kinds of birds valuable for food purposes it is significant that only 
five are commonly found in a state of domestication : four kinds of 
poultry (fowls, turkeys, ducks, geese), and pigeons. These do not 
appear to have been deliberately selected for domestication as more 
valuable than others. It is probable that from the time savage man 
began to snare and trap birds, or was moved occasionally to try to 
remedy a less than mortal injury inflicted by his weapon, nearly 
every kind of bird has been kept in captivity. Many wild birds are 
as highly prized for food as any of those that have been domesti- 
cated. It was, evidently, not so much the taste of men, or the some- 
thing in the bird which appealed to that taste, which had most 
effect in determining which kinds should be domesticated. It was 
adaptability to the conditions of domestic life ; and this adaptability 
depended upon docility, capacity to develop confidence in man and 
to live in some degree of harmony with other domestic creatures. 

4. They are of sufficient size to be individually of economic im- 
portance. This applies to ordinary specimens of the smaller kinds 
and all specimens of the larger kinds of poultry. Bantam fowls 
(except the larger types, Cochin and Brahma) are of no importance 
except for " fancy." 

5. They tend to improve in domestication in qualities most 
valuable to man. This is most noticeable in a comparison of poul- 
try and pigeons. Improvement in pigeons is possible, and much 


has been done in that line, but no such marked general improve- 
ment has taken place in pigeons as in the common kinds of poultry. 

6. They are completely under the control of man in domestica- 
tion. In this respect the pigeon affords a most striking contrast. 
All kinds of poultry can be restrained by fences or kept in yards ; 
pigeons can be controlled only in cages. 

7. They are dependent upon man for existence in civilization. 
Aerial birds may maintain themselves in settled districts independ- 
ently of man. 1 Birds of the poultry group, once domesticated, be- 
come dependent on man and can exist in contact with civilization 
only as the property of individuals who protect them. 

The elementary poultry character. The characteristic of terres- 
trial birds which is of prime economic importance is the condition 
of the young when hatched. The young of terrestrial birds emerge 
from the shell full-formed, well covered with down, capable of loco- 
motion, and able to feed themselves as soon as they require nourish- 
ment. Thus from the start they are, in a remarkable degree, 
independent of the parent, while the young of aerial birds, hatched 
naked, blind, and helpless, are wholly dependent upon the parents 
until quite full-grown. A high degree of independence in the young 
of birds which live and nest upon the ground is a necessary condi- 
tion of that mode of life in a state of nature. In domestication this 
same characteristic greatly augments their usefulness, permitting 
important modifications in their habits and making it possible to 
produce them economically in much greater numbers and under a 
greater variety of conditions than any other kind of domestic crea- 
tures. The importance of this characteristic is seen very plainly 
when we contrast those habits of aerial and terrestrial birds which 
are associated with the condition of the young, and compare the 
things which may profitably be done with birds in domestication. 

Young aerial birds require so much attention from their parents 
that birds of this class are necessarily monogamous in mating habits 

1 It is a fact worth noting in this connection that while the wild pigeon in 
North America has almost disappeared, flocks of free pigeons maintain them- 
selves in large cities, where they often make themselves a nuisance, escaping 
destruction more easily than in the open country because conditions in the city 
prohibit the use of the weapons most effective in exterminating them. So the 
little English sparrow, individually insignificant, finds its greatest safety in the cities, 
where it multiplies amazingly, and efforts to dislodge or exterminate it are futile. 


and of relatively low fecundity, rearing usually only from two to 
four or five young at a time and breeding only once or twice in a 
season. Even pigeons in domestication, while breeding perhaps 
once in two months the year round, produce annually but ten or 
twelve young to the pair. Thus it is necessary to retain, for breeding 
purposes, as many males as females, and even then the rate of 
increase is slow as compared with that of land birds. In general, 
birds of this class will perish if deprived of the care of their own 
parents, while, because the amount of attention they require is out 
of all proportion to their individual value, man cannot afford to 
attend to their wants. 

Among terrestrial birds, pairing seems to have been the original 
mating habit. The disposition to pair often crops out even in 
fowls, which are conspicuously polygamous and indiscriminate in 
this relation. Young geese usually mate in pairs, and these and 
the males of geese and some others of the rarer kinds of poultry 
generally mate with only a small number of females. But when 
one parent, naturally the female, can hatch and care for a large 
number of young, the male, relieved of direct responsibility for the 
care of his offspring, increases the number of his mates and seeks 
to destroy the rivals for their affections. However beautiful mo- 
nogamy among the lower creatures may appear when considered 
ethically, economically it is a fault which severely restricts the pos- 
sibilities of reproduction and reduces the profits of production. 
The general serviceableness and popularity of the various kinds of 
poultry are very nearly in proportion to the amount of deviation 
from the habit of pairing which it has been possible to secure. 

Not being dependent on the care of adults of their own kind, the 
young of land birds may be reared by other land birds or by the 
use of artificial methods. So it is possible to relieve the females 
also of the care of the young to any extent desirable, and to take 
full advantage of their fecundity. 

Values of poultry. Poultry contribute to the welfare of men in 
more ways than any other class of creatures. They supply him 
with flesh and eggs for food, and feathers for comfort or ornament, 
utilize many wastes of the house and farm, are of service in agri- 
culture, and minister to man's pleasure. Their likeness simplifies 
the work of caring for different kinds under one management, 


their differences of habit often enable the poultryman to handle 
flocks of several kinds much more profitably than he could keep 
an equal number of any one kind, and their difference in products 
gives a greater variety of articles, for use or sale. 

The use of poultry flesh as food is governed by its convenience, 
quality, and cheapness. 

Convenience. While, compared among themselves, the common 
birds of the poultry group show considerable diversity in size, com- 
pared with other domestic creatures generally used for food they 
are all small. Their size is such that at any season and in any 
climate an ordinary family can use a carcass while fresh. Their 
conformation is such that the killing and dressing of poultry are 
comparatively easy and cleanly processes, often performed by 
women, and even by quite young children. 

Quality. The flesh of poultry, compared with that of mammals 
grown for food purposes in domestication, is finer grained and, 
when in proper condition, more tender. It is at the same time easily 
digested and highly nutritious. The flesh of the more common kinds 
of strictly land birds (fowls and turkeys) is regarded as a necessity 
for invalids and persons of weak digestion, and is the most popular 
luxury in the meat line. The flesh of ducks and geese, being more 
oily and of stronger flavor, is not so freely used except by those races 
which do not eat pork, but all kinds of poultry meat are commonly 
rated as greater delicacies than meat of other domestic creatures. 

Cheapness. The cost of poultry is estimated differently by the 
producer consuming a home product and the consumer buying 
what he uses. For the grower, as a rule, poultry is actually cheap 
meat. The agricultural service of the birds and their feeding 
largely on stuffs that would otherwise go to waste make the cost 
of production on farms small. Even where they are grown at 
greater expense, the cost is usually low enough to make it as eco- 
nomical for the grower to use poultry freely as to buy other meat 
of like quality. It is this cheapness and convenience, as already 
noted, that determine the use in America of enormous quantities 
of poultry by producers and bring about the almost universal desire 
to grow poultry wherever there is opportunity to do so. 

For the buyer, poultry is generally cheap as compared with other 
meats which may be used to supplement the beef, mutton, and pork 


which are staple meat foods for most healthy people, or as substi- 
tutes for them in the diet of invalids. Thus it is cheapness and 
quality that determine the use of poultry by those who, buying all 
meat as they use it, are not brought to an appreciation of the con- 
venience enjoyed by those who produce their own poultry. This 
difference in estimates of the properties making poultry desirable 
as food accounts for the too common failure of poultry growers to 
understand the demand for poultry of superior table quality. The 
grower using poultry as a staple meat and selling his surplus is 
not as particular as to the quality of the meat as the nonproduc- 
ing consumer to whom it is a delicacy. 

Properties of eggs. The egg the most unique of food products 
is the only article of animal food which we have in a natural pack- 
age. The term " hen fruit," though facetiously used, recognizes a 
resemblance between the egg' and the large class of fruits whose 
edible portion is protected by a covering which, as long as it 
remains intact, is a highly effective guard against many external 
causes of deterioration. Eggs may be kept reasonably fresh and 
sweet in conditions and at temperatures in which meat could be 
kept for only a short time. Easily digested, highly nutritious, con- 
sidered as a separate article of diet they have, in even greater degree 
than the creatures which supply them, the properties of palatability 
and convenience. 

The most important use of eggs, however, is in combination 
with other ingredients in the endless variety of food concoctions 
that have been devised. While eggs for eating are often regarded 
as a luxury, to be indulged in according to the price of eggs as com- 
pared with other foods, eggs for cooking are generally regarded as 
a necessity. In a close analysis of the subject, the demand for eggs 
is seen to have a great deal of influence in determining the relative 
popularity of the different kinds of poultry, and also to increase 
their production, thus reducing the cost of table poultry to the 

Feathers are a by-product in poultry culture, except in ostrich 
farming, which is limited to a few localities and not extensive any- 
where. With this exception the production of feathers for com- 
merce is never a direct object in poultry keeping. The feathers of 
the common kinds of poultry, when saved and sold, will, it is usually 



estimated, bring just about enough l to pay for dressing the birds 
and for the preparation of the feathers for market. 

Services of poultry in agriculture. The possibilities of making 
poultry work are only beginning to be duly appreciated. For 
centuries poultry on farms have been kept about the dwelling and 
outbuildings, where a limited number might be tolerated, but with 
efforts to keep a large stock, or to keep several kinds together, 
they usually became a nuisance. Gradually farmers have been 
learning that, with a proper distribution of poultry on the farm, 
larger stocks can be kept at relatively less cost and with much 
better results. Some of the characteristics of poultry most objection- 
able when the stock is allowed to concentrate near the dwelling and 
is not kept under restraint are most useful when properly directed. 

Of poultry in general it may be said that, more than any other 
kind of domestic live stock, they can be made of service to the 
husbandman, because of the extent to which they can be kept on 
land occupied by crops, not only without damaging the crops, but 
with benefit to them and improvement to the land. 

Recreation in poultry culture. Poultry minister to the pleasure 
of man in various ways. Many flocks are kept " to look at " either 
because of their general attractiveness as living figures in the land- 
scape, or because of their peculiar attractiveness to their owner. 
In these uses poultry satisfy a rather passive interest. Active 
interest in poultry kept for recreation is almost invariably closely 
associated with the desire of man to improve the products of 
nature. A bird which he regards as of exceptional merit is valued 
by the poultry fancier more as a product of his skill than as a thing 
in itself beautiful. The breeder of pit gamecocks is insensible to 
the brutality of the sport, because it is to him the necessary test of 
fighting quality and courage brought to their highest development 
by his skill in breeding and handling his birds. 

1 While this is the common opinion, and may still be right for most cases, at 
some places the cost of picking has increased of recent years faster than the 
price of feathers. 



Antiquity of poultry culture. The beginnings of poultry keep- 
ing were a part of prehistoric human life. Our Aryan ancestors 
had poultry, but whether they domesticated it after having made 
some progress in civilization, or at an earlier period, or received 
it from an earlier or an alien race is not known. From the greater 
ease of taking and holding in captivity such birds as the fowl, duck, 
and goose it is quite reasonable to suppose that these may have 
been domesticated before any of the mammals, and by people in 
a most primitive state. The distribution of domestic fowls, ducks, 
and geese over the earth has followed in a general way the 
migrations of peoples of Aryan origin. An important exception 
appears to be the case of the Chinese poultry, which, according 
to their tradition, was received from the West about 1400 B.C. 

Pre-modern poultry culture. Prior to the middle of the nine- 
teenth century, poultry culture was essentially primitive and appar- 
ently conducted on the same general lines in all lands. Accounts 
of poultry keeping in this long period are rare and historically 
of little value. Unsatisfactory as these writings are as sources of 
complete information, they give an impression of the conditions 
that they reflect which is undoubtedly correct in its general features, 
and which suffices for the practical student, if not for the curious 
investigator. From the remaining records of this period and from 
the fact that in it nearly all prominent types of poultry were devel- 
oped and brought to a high grade of excellence, it may reasonably 
be concluded : 

First : That the common idea that poultry culture throughout this period 
was characterized by general ignorance of good methods of management and 
universal failure to appreciate the possibilities of profit from poultry is erron- 
eous; and, 

Second : That the industry was everywhere developed on a scale and along 
lines appropriate to circumstances affecting it; that keepers of poultry in general 



were as well versed in management as conditions and the scale of operations 
required ; and that persons especially interested in poultry, though relatively 
less numerous, were, probably, quite as skillful as now. 

We are coming to a better appreciation of these facts as, after 
many efforts to force the development of the industry in accord- 
ance with " factory " ideas, we return to the simpler methods of 
earlier times. 

Persistence of primitive conditions explained. Before the appli- 
cation of steam as a motive force gave a new and tremendous 
stimulus to trade and manufacturing and brought about a great 
movement of population to the cities, only a very small per cent of 
people were so situated that they could not either produce what 
poultry and eggs they needed or procure cheap supplies from nearby 
sources. ' The value of products of this class was usually not great 
enough to warrant transportation from a distance. Except in the 
vicinity of a few large cities, a poultry keeper producing beyond 
the needs of his own family would not often find a profitable outlet 
for the surplus. Under such conditions poultry culture was neces- 
sarily almost everywhere a home industry producing for home 
consumption, and that is still the status of the industry in every 
agricultural section which has not easy access for its products to 
large cities or to manufacturing or mining sections. 

Quality of common poultry. The ordinary native stocks of fowls, 
ducks, geese, and turkeys in America, at the time of the general 
awakening of interest in improved poultry and for some years after, 
were, even when compared with the average mongrel stocks of 
to-day, small birds of distinctly inferior table qualities and usually 
inferior also in egg production. This degeneracy of stock was 
due to the common practice of selecting for the table first. When 
a bird was wanted for food it was usual to take the largest and 
best. The result of this sort of selection, continuously operative, 
was that the poorest specimens of each year were left for next 
year's breeding. That such practice, persistently followed, did not 
quickly run the stock out was due to these saving circumstances : 
(i) the natural tendency of the stock to improve under (2) the 
very favorable conditions which small flocks at liberty on farms 
enjoyed, and (3) the occasional introduction of blood of improved 
native stock. 


Improved native stocks. In fowls, especially, flocks of superior 
quality were without doubt numerous enough to have considerable 
influence on the general stock. With an occasional exception these 
improved stocks were of no fixed color type. They are perhaps best 
described as such mongrels, not much better than the general run 
of native stocks, as would be obtained by selecting the best for 
breeding instead of for eating. Now and then a person particularly 
interested in poultry would breed his flock to one type of color, 
but the prevailing belief was that the best breeding was that which 
combined the greatest variety ; and, as a rule, specimens leaving 
such flocks were not bred to the type, but were used to give to 
the purchaser's stock such of their quality as they could. Hawk- 
colored or Dominique fowls were commonly thought to be su- 
perior layers, but in general, virtue was attributed to the color, 
without regard to breeding t>r other characteristics. This color 
type being also a most persistent one, hawk-colored fowls were 
numerous, and occasional references may be found to flocks in 
which this was the dominant color. 

Interest in distinctive types. The first importations of foreign 
breeds to attract general attention were the importations of fowls 
from China in 1846 (?). Though details and dates are lacking, it 
is scarcely open to doubt that both Asiatic 1 and European fowls 
were occasionally imported in colonial times, possibly some 
breeds by early settlers ; but there is little evidence of interest 
in improved stock of any kind until after the Revolution. 

With the awakening of interest in and inquiry for stock of 
reputedly pure and superior blood, it was found that there was 
altogether a great deal of such stock in the country, and that all 
the principal types were well represented. Until the sensational 
exploitation of the Asiatics they seemed less in favor than the 
Dorkings, Spanish, and Polish. All of these races, and others 
which came in later, were crude as compared with the carefully 
developed types of to-day. The wonderful stories sometimes told 
of their size, precocity, and productiveness greatly stimulated 
interest in them. On the supposition that these stories were 
authentic, the impression grew up in later times that the early 

1 Kerr, Domestic and Ornamental Poultry (1851), p. 270, says that Asiatic 
fowls were brought to the vicinity of Philadelphia about forty years before. 


stocks were much superior in size, vigor, and productiveness to 
those of their kind known at the present day. What the truth as 
to this may be must always remain a matter of conjecture. The 
probable truth is that the early stocks were on the whole inferior 
to average specimens of their races at the present time. Certain 
it is that not one of the many foreign breeds introduced was of 
the type adapted to American ideas and conditions. No one 
of them ever appealed, or could have appealed, to the mass of 
poultry keepers as has the so-called American type, otherwise 
known as the general-purpose type. 

Importations of ducks and geese of foreign breeds early made 
American fanciers familiar with the favorites, of both kinds, in 
various parts of Europe, and with the Chinese and African races 
of geese. Singularly, the most important of all foreign breeds of 
waterfowl, the Pekin duck, was almost unknown in this country 
until quite late in the nineteenth century. Coming into general 
notice just at the time when artificial methods of incubation and 
brooding had been brought to a practical stage, and being espe- 
cially adapted to the intensive methods of culture which harmonize 
with these, the Pekin duck furnished the material for what soon 
became the most profitable line of poultry culture. 

In the improvement of the turkey the greatest progress was 
made by crossing the domestic native with the original wild stock, 
still found in its natural state in certain localities over a wide 
area of country. 

First effects of aquaintance with improved breeds. Observation 
of the striking new types could not fail to impress on the minds of 
those already interested in the improvement of poultry, the advan- 
tages of fixed type and of uniformity in the individuals of a flock, 
or to create an interest in methods of producing these. Naturally 
such persons procured and bred stock of these breeds, but from 
the beginning of public interest in them it was apparent that the 
mass of poultry keepers were more interested in the new breeds 
for the benefits to the native stock from crossing with them, than 
for the development of the breeds in their purity. 

It was for this reason, and perhaps also because they had been 
quite widely introduced through all that part of the country which 
was in close touch with Asiatic commerce, that the Asiatic fowls 


were so extensively used to grade up the native stock. They, 
more than any other race, had the size which degenerate native 
stock everywhere lacks. They were also of more robust constitu- 
tion than the European races. It is said on good authority that, 
as a result of the crossing of Asiatic on native stock, the average 
size of fowls brought to the Boston market was doubled within a 
few years. 

Development of the American type. Familiarity with the foreign 
types and with the results of mixture with the native stocks quickly 
developed the idea of a type of fowl better suited to America than 
any of the others. While most poultry keepers were using stock 
of the new breeds with their native stock, without much thought 
beyond immediate results, some of the fanciers and the more intelli- 
gent breeders were trying to make and establish breeds having the 
characteristics generally desired. The ideal of the American type 
seems to have become fixed in many minds at the very beginning 
of efforts to improve poultry. In the few years following 1850 a 
great many crosses were made for this purpose and offered as 
new breeds. 

While information concerning these is meager, it can hardly be 
doubted that many of these mixtures gave fowls differing but 
slightly in substantial characters from the type desired. The com- 
bination of such qualities with superficial characters attractive to 
the mass of poultry keepers was not produced until the Plymouth 
Rock appeared in the late sixties. This breed was first exhibited 
in 1869, and immediately entered upon the career of popularity 
which was soon to make it more numerous in America than all 
other standard-bred fowls combined. While in the duplicating 
of the original stocks, and in the perfecting of the breed, other 
elements were used, and the various lines subsequently mingled 
to such an extent that no accurate analysis of the blood lines of 
the modern Barred Rock is possible, the first stock was made by 
crossing a male of the hawk-colored type on black Asiatic hens, 
called by some Javas and by some Cochins. This cross gave 
birds of the color that had long been regarded as associated with 
peculiar merit, and at the same time gave a fowl of the medium 
size desired and having for its ancestry the hardiest native stock 
and the hardiest of the foreign races. 


The Barred Plymouth Rock (which, until the white variety 
appeared, was called simply the Plymouth Rock) was the first 
thoroughbred fowl presenting the combination of characteristics 
more satisfactory to the farmer than what he secured from either 
the native stock or the indiscriminate mixture of breeds which 
popular authorities favored. The result was that, in all parts of the 
country, people who before had held aloof from "fancy" breeds 
began to breed the Plymouth Rock. The appearance of a stable 
type suiting the general idea gave a tremendous impetus to 
poultry culture. 

After the Plymouth Rock came other varieties and breeds differ- 
ing from it in color of plumage or in shape of comb, or varying 
somewhat from its size, shape, and weight, but still of the general 
type of fowl best adapted to the production of both eggs and meat 
and to the conditions under which most poultry is kept for profit. 
The Asiatic type continued to be bred, especially where large fowls 
for the table were wanted ; and the Leghorn, the most serviceable 
European type, was improved in this country and became an 
important factor in the extension of interest in improved stock, 
especially where eggs were the most important product. 

Artificial incubation. The hatching of eggs by artificial means 
has been practiced in Egypt and China from very early times. 
This fact and something of the methods used by these peoples 
have long been known, but the methods used were not adapted 
either to the conditions of the industry in Europe and America or 
to the habits and temperament of occidental races. Incubators t>f 
the types found practicable for general use were first introduced 
about 1875. The machines of that period have never been sur- 
passed for efficient work when skillfully handled, but their manage- 
ment was too difficult for the average operator. 

Towarol 1890 more perfectly regulated machines appeared, and 
the incubator began to come into general use and to have a pro- 
nounced effect on the development of the industry. In the next 
ten years more marked improvements in the construction of incu- 
bators easy of operation were made. These improvements and the 
development of more practicable methods of artificial brooding 
made possible the production of poultry on a much larger scale 
than had ever been attempted before. Though that was the feature 


of the use of artificial methods which most fired the imaginations 
of those considering the financial possibilities of poultry culture, and 
though, in a limited way and in a few lines, the scale of operations 
with poultry has been greatly enlarged by the use of artificial 
methods, they are more generally valuable as supplementing natural 
methods than as a substitute for them. 

Exhibitions. The first public exhibition of poultry in America 
was held in the Public Garden in Boston, in 1849. This exhibition, 
more than any other one event, gave impetus to the growing excite- 
ment over remarkable kinds of poultry. In England, a few years 
earlier, a great poultry show had been held in the Crystal Palace, 
London. Both of these shows were noteworthy for the number and 
variety of exhibits which they contained. Each in its own country 
may be said to mark, as exactly as such a change can be marked, the 
end of the ancient and the beginning of the modern period in poultry 
culture. With them began the organization of poultry interests. 
Following them, organizations of poultrymen multiplied, and shows 
were held in many places. In the United States the Civil War 
drew attention for a while from such interests, but hardly had 
hostilities ceased when the interest in poultry began to be active. 
Poultry exhibitions, both separately and as an adjunct of agri- 
cultural fairs, have been one of the most important factors in the 
development of the industry. 

Poultry literature of the early period. Before 1815, when 
Moubray's first book appeared, the only books in the English lan- 
guage exclusively on poultry were a few treatises on gamecocks 
and cock fighting, and the work of Mascall, published in 1581. 
Moubray's book went through a number of editions and seems to 
have met the popular demand for twenty years or more. Then, just 
as the period was closing, a number of books appeared. Between 
1 840 and 1860, and especially in the ten years from 1845 to 1855, 
were issued more books undertaking a complete presentation of 
the subject of poultry culture than were produced in the following 
half-century. Compared with this output the latter period seems 
strangely barren of books, but a full analysis of poultry literature 
shows that the books which came out so rapidly, and relatively in 
such abundance, at the beginning of the modern period, are really 
the posthumous literature of the early period. Their influence on 


the development of the industry is practically negligible. They are 
best appreciated when considered as the concluding records of the 
early period. The merely curious reader, more impressed by what 
is odd than by what is familiar, may think he finds in them a great 
many errors now obsolete. The close student, acquainted with 
modern developments, is much more impressed by the practical 
knowledge of poultry culture in earlier times. To him the most un- 
satisfactory thing about these books is the faultiness of their descrip- 
tions of breeds, names and terms being used so carelessly that the 
identity of the birds alluded to is often doubtful. Their weakness 
in this particular is one of the chief sources of confusion in regard 
to the genesis of modern breeds and types. 

Modern poultry literature. As we have seen that the book 
literature of the early period overlapped the beginnings of the 
modern period, so we find the beginnings of modern literature 
taking form in the closing years of the early period. The agri- 
cultural papers, established a little earlier, furnished the natural 
medium through which poultry keepers exchanged information and 
ideas, and made the first steps toward transfers of stock. At first, 
references to poultry matters in these papers were brief and inter- 
mittent, but before long many of them regularly devoted special 
space to poultry, a practice still continued. The most intense 
interest in poultry, however, was not among agriculturists but 
among dwellers in towns and cities. As many of these people were 
but slightly interested in other agricultural subjects, and as those 
especially interested in poultry, whether in town or country, wanted 
more information on the subject than the agricultural paper could 
give them, papers devoted especially to poultry, or to poultry, pigeons, 
arid pet stock, began to appear. 

Journalism. The poultry press has been a unique factor in the 
development of the industry. The great number of periodicals 
devoted to this subject has often been cited as an illustration of the 
wealth-producing capacity of a specialty which could support so 
many more papers than any other of its class. As a matter of fact, 
in only a small proportion of cases has the support given these 
papers been sufficient to make them profitable to their publishers, 
with most of whom the publication of a poultry paper has been a 
side issue. But, regardless of its financial value to proprietors, the 


poultry press collectively has been a highly efficient organ for the 
distribution of detailed information about every phase of poultry 
culture. On the whole, it has been a rather indiscriminate purveyor 
of information, exploiting all sorts of ideas and articles without in- 
quiring too closely into their merits. As a rule, it has been more 
prone to fall in with the delusions of the public than to make 
careful inquiries as to facts. 

In all these things it has simply reflected, on a larger scale and 
publicly, the merits and the faults of the average poultry enthusiast, 
who conceives it his duty to spread the interest in poultry culture 
as far and as fast as possible. Whatever may be said of the moral- 
ity of this sort of exploitation, or of the losses to individuals that it 
causes, in considering factors in the development of the poultry 
industry this must be reckoned as one of the most potent. It is 
impossible to make any accurate estimate of the numbers of people 
who have gone into poultry keeping with exaggerated ideas of 
the profits to be realized, who would never have been interested 
in it to that extent had they known the truth, but who, once in 
it, remained until they had made a success, though not of the 
proportions they had anticipated. 

The poultry press has literally spread broadcast, as fast as it came 
to light, every bit of knowledge and every idea on the subject ; but 
generally so discursively, and with so little effort to suppress mis- 
leading or superfluous matter, that those who went to papers for 
information were likely to turn from them in confusion. The situa- 
tion created by so active an agency, constantly extending interest 
in the subject yet never satisfying the curiosity created, greatly 
stimulated the demand for books which would systematically pre- 
sent the essentials of the subject. 

Books. With a few exceptions, recent books have been either 
monographs or symposia on special subjects. Some of those de- 
signed to cover the subject completely are really collections of several 
essays on subjects in which the authors were specialists, with brief 
and perfunctory treatments of such other topics as were taken up, 
and with many important matters omitted. Some of the most pre- 
tentious titles were given to works of small size and less importance. 

While the need of comprehensive, authoritative works was every- 
where recognized, and nearly every author confessed a purpose to 


meet this demand, so little confidence had either authors or pub- 
lishers in the permanent value of these books that in over forty 
years there were issued, bound in boards, only three poultry 
books by American authors. 1 In all that time only one American 
book (Felch's " Poultry Culture ") appeared which secured exten- 
sive recognition as an authority. The favorite work with Ameri- 
can poultry keepers was an English book, " The Practical Poultry 
Keeper," by Lewis Wright. The information in this book was 
not always adapted to American conditions, but the book as a 
whole furnished the most complete and logical treatment of the 
subject from a modern point of view, and as such had a great 

It is not practicable here to go into a discussion of reasons for 
the scarcity of good books by American authors, but one most 
important reason should be mentioned. The common lack of 
confidence in the permanent value of books written during this 
period was due to the general recognition of the unsettled condi- 
tion of the industry. This will be discussed more particularly in the 
next chapter. The point of interest here is that, because of the 
changes which have taken place, the literature of the first half- 
century of the modern period has ceased to be serviceable for 
instruction in so many particulars that the student of the subject, 
reading those books to-day, needs constantly to guard against teach- 
ings that progress has made obsolete. For this reason it is wise to 
postpone acquaintance with the literature of that period until one 
has acquired a fair general knowledge of present conditions and 
practice, and is thus qualified to distinguish between what is obso- 
lete and the considerable quantity of valuable matter to be found 
in the literature of the period. A little of the same caution is 
advisable even in the study of more recent literature, for some 
writers on poultry draw more freely on past literature than on 
current experience. 

Instruction and investigation. Public educational and experi- 
mental work was not seriously undertaken in America until near 
the close of the nineteenth century. The very abundance and 

1 I. K. Felch, Poultry Culture ; I. K. Felch, H. S. Babcock, and J. Henry Lee, 
The Philosophy of Judging; The Standard of Perfection (published by the 
American Poultry Association). 


breadth of periodical literature superficially meeting the demand 
for information was in part responsible for this, but the principal 
reason was that neither the general public nor the educators and 
investigators had outgrown the old idea of the insignificance of 
poultry. Though still in the rudimentary stages, these agencies 
are already making an impression on the industry. Work in either 
line requires, first of all, more careful consideration of facts than 
has been usual among poultry keepers, the reduction of actual 
knowledge to a form suitable for instruction, and a proper analy- 
sis and summary of the known facts in any problem as a basis 
for further investigation. The influence of these requirements is 
already apparent in many directions. 

Individual influence. In the developments of the modern period 
personal taste and talent have figured on a much more extensive 
scale than formerly, because modern conditions furnished a vastly 
greater field for their exercise. One of the most notable differences 
between the ancient and the modern period in poultry culture is 
the difference in the relation toward poultry culture of men deeply 
interested in it. The conditions of poultry production through- 
out the whole of the early period were such that all poultry keepers 
and fanciers, not excepting writers regarded as authorities on the 
subject, were amateurs ; the opportunities open to the individual any- 
where for exploiting his interest in poultry were too limited to admit 
of making a trade or a profession of any line of work with poultry. 1 

The conditions which brought about the rapid development of 
the industry created a field for the profitable use of the knowledge 
and skill of the poultryman. It became possible for men to make 
a living by judging poultry and by writing for poultry men, as well 
as by breeding poultry. By their activities along these lines, and 
in the opportunities that these incidentally gave them for meeting 
people interested in the subject over a very large territory, m^ny 
men have had great influence on the development of poultry inter- 
ests. Hundreds of such men have been known throughout the 
English-speaking world, and a lesser number more extensively. 
This is in striking contrast to the former period, in which many 

1 This statement may not apply strictly to a few producers in localities supply- 
ing the markets of such cities as London, Paris, and New York, but we have no 
certain knowledge of the fact as to these cases. 


men must have been influential but few ever became known outside 
of their own localities. 

Trade spirit. Commercialism in modern poultry culture is often 
denounced as the bane of the business. Such denunciations are 
applied to all manifestations of the commercial element in practi- 
cal as well as in fancy poultry culture. While it must be admitted 
that the commercial spirit has developed grave abuses in both 
lines, it must also be remembered that the whole structure of 
modern poultry culture, with all its subsidiary industries, rests 
on a commercial basis. Commercial opportunity brought about 
the change from the old conditions, and has repeatedly opened 
up new avenues for the extension of the industry. It is not pos- 
sible here to discuss in detail the influence that the invention 
and exploitation of articles used in poultry keeping has had upon 
the industry, but a correct idea of the growth and status of the 
industry requires recognition of the commercial spirit as an es- 
sential element in present and future poultry culture. 



The first statistics of poultry. In the United States the first 
enumeration of poultry was made in the census of 1840, and 
covered only the number and value of the poultry. According to 
this census the total value of all the poultry in the country was 
.$12,176, I/O. 1 The eggs and other products were undoubtedly 
worth enough more to make the aggregate $25,000,000. This 
may be accepted as the best available estimate of the farm value of 
poultry products at that time. In comparing these with later figures 
the difference in the purchasing power of money must be taken 
into account. It must also be considered that at that time much of 
the country west of the Mississippi was little settled. In this census 
report the state of Iowa, which now has an annual production about 
equal to that of the whole country in 1840, is credited with poultry 

1 In "The American Poultry Book" (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1843) ' s 
given (p. 143) the following abstract from the returns made by the census of 
1840, exhibiting the total value of all the poultry in the various states and territories 
of the Union : 






. $123,171 

Ohio . . . . 


New Hampshire 


Kentucky ..... 




Tennessee . . , . 


Massachusetts .... 




Rhode Island .... 


Mississippi .... 






New York 




New Jersey 


Michigan . . . . . 


Pennsylvania .... 


Arkansas . . ... 



/17 /l6 C 

Florida (incomplete) 

. 6 1 007 



Wisconsin .... 


Virginia .... 

7 C2 ^67 

17 IOI 

North Carolina .... 


District of Columbia . 


South Carolina .... 



$1 176 170 



to the value of only $17,101. In some of the older eastern states 
the value of poultry given is so large as to indicate a considerable 
development of interest in poultry some years before it began to 
spread widely. Thus in New York the value of poultry products 
in 1840 undoubtedly exceeded $5,000,000, and the annual produc- 
tion of the Empire State at that time was greater than to-day in 

Present value of poultry products in the United States. The 
Department of Agriculture estimates the total production at about 
$700,000,000 annually. 1 These figures, large as they seem, are 
probably much below the actual value produced. 2 They are very 
freely quoted to show the magnitude of the poultry industry, 
and comparisons with figures for other staples are often made, 
showing a total value of poultry production in excess of that in 
many other lines commonly supposed to be of greater importance. 
These comparisons generally give distorted and exaggerated 
views of the relative importance of poultry culture, suggesting 
developments which in practice are difficult or impossible. While 
large undertakings with poultry rarely succeed, the increase in 
production due to a general extension of interest is often 
amazing. In Kansas the average value of poultry and eggs 
sold annually in the state for the five years ending with 1896 
was $3,333,562. The value for 1897 was $3,850,997 ; the value 
for 1907 was $10,300,082. 

1 This is estimated on the returns of the United States census of 1900 and of 
later figures for a number of states. So far as the author has been able to learn, 
no full census of poultry has ever been taken in the United States. Statistics for 
poultry have been taken as part of " statistics of the farm," and no account has 
been made of poultry not on farms or large plants. In Canada no general poultry 
census has ever been taken. 

2 An interesting and instructive exercise is to compute the cost of poultry con- 
sumed in a country on an assumed per capita consumption. Thus, if the population 
of the United States be taken as 90,000,000, and it be assumed that each individual 
consumes one egg per day, and that the value of the eggs is but one cent each, it will 
be found that the cost of supplying each resident of the United States with one egg 
daily for a year is $328,500,000, almost half of the estimated total production of 
eggs and all kinds of poultry. Or, if it be assumed that the 90,000,000 people 
represent 18,000,000 families of five persons each, and that each family con- 
sumes weekly one chicken at a cost of twenty-five cents, it will be found that the 
total cost of these chickens would be almost exactly one third of $700,000,000. 
Such computations and comparisons enable one to realize what large figures 
actually mean. 



FIG. i. Back-yard poultry keeping 
(Photograph from A. T. Grosvenor)' 

The poultry industry. The production (for home use or sale) and 
the sale of poultry products constitute the poultry industry. " The 
poultry business " is a term applied to poultry keeping on a scale 

large enough to make it the busi- 
ness of one or more persons. The 
greater part, probably over ninety 
per cent, of all the poultry sold in 
the United States is produced by 
poultry keepers who do not make a 
business of poultry culture but keep 
poultry on a small scale while giving 
their attention chiefly to some other 
occupation, usually general farming. 
As the figures of the early census 
show, there was a poultry industry 
of considerable proportions before the idea of developing poultry 
culture as a business began to be entertained. 

While the magnitude of the totals of volume and value of poul- 
try products naturally suggests opportunity for the development of 
poultry production on a large scale, with correspondingly large 
profits, the fact that the 
demand is so nearly met 
by the produce of the 
millions of small flocks 
should be far more signif- 
icant to those engaging 
in large poultry-producing 
enterprises. The poultry 
industry as a whole is per- 
manent. It includes (as 
long as the business lasts) 
every poultry business. 
The stable factor in pro- 
duction is the farm flock, 
the produce of which is 
largely profit. The spectacular large enterprises rarely last long, 
and their nominal contributions to poultry production often repre- 
sent only a waste and loss of money earned in other occupations. 

FIG. 2. A back-yard poultry plant. House con- 
struction conforming to that of residence 


Trend of development. The natural tendency of the poultry in- 
dustry is not to develop production on a large scale but to extend 
and improve ordinary small operations as far as possible without 
changing the position that they occupy as subordinate to the other 
interests of the poultry keeper and to other uses of his land. The 
general development of productive poultry culture proceeds accord- 
ing to this tendency, with exceptions when local or temporary con- 
ditions stimulate to specialization in poultry. In the distribution of 
poultry products the natural tendency is toward concentration of 
collections and trade and the building up of large businesses. 

The natural division of the poultry industry. Trade conditions 
separate the masses of producers and distributors (including collec- 
tors), though a considerable number of individuals may combine 
both functions. It is noteworthy that the greater number of " mid- 
dlemen," as well as of producers of poultry, handle poultry with 
other lines, for this point is vital in plans for cooperative market- 
ing of poultry produce. It should also be observed that, both in the 
combination of poultry production or selling with the production 
or selling of other lines of produce, and in the division of labor 
which makes one man a producer (of a variety of articles) and 
another a dealer (in perhaps a similar variety of articles), economic 
tendencies and laws operate to give individuals generally the 
kind of work and the combination of lines which each can pur- 
sue to the best advantage. 

Limitations on development. The peculiar advantage of poultry 
culture as an occupation for persons with small capital lies in its 
limitations, in the usual impossibility of developing productive 
plants on a large scale. This is a line of production in which most 
of the advantages are with the small operator, with whom it is an 
avocation. It is a branch of agriculture requiring so little capital 
for a beginning that even the poorest may make a start in it, 
giving returns quickly and regularly, and capable of rapid exten- 
sion within the limits favorable to economic production. Occasion- 
ally these limits admit of the development of a poultry business, 
but even then a business is developed only by those able to use the 
opportunity. Many who do well with poultry on a small scale can- 
- not handle a large stock of poultry profitably, and so cannot use an 
opportunity to build up a business when open to them. Usually 


natural and economic limitations so restrict operations that after a 
little time the poultryman ceases to use his surplus earnings to 
extend operations with poultry, and applies them to the develop- 
ment of some other interest. 1 

A farmer in New York state, who has become one of the 
wealthiest men in his section, and whose reputation as a poultry 
breeder is international, once told the author that, though he got 
his start with poultry and had always made what poultry he kept 
pay well, he would consider a poultryman very foolish who would 
stick to poultry exclusively, even though making it pay well, be- 
cause there are so many other lines in which money, ability, and 
time may be used to better advantage. 

Permanent poultry culture is a branch of agriculture. This 
fact the poultry keeper and the student of poultry matters alike 
should keep ever in mind. It is fundamental. Remarkable as has 
been the growth of the industry in modern times, the financial losses 
incidental to this growth have reached an enormous aggregate. 
The greater part of the appalling total of losses in poultry keep- 
ing could have been avoided if its true status had been generally 
understood. Until very recently, the most conspicuous feature of 
the exploitation of the industry was the widespread and persistent 
effort to develop it artificially, following manufacturing methods 
and ideas. 

The common result of the use of intensive methods on any con- 
siderable scale was failure, sometimes after temporary or partial 
success had encouraged the poultryman to continue or perhaps to 
increase operations. There were exceptions in a few lines (to be 

1 Perhaps the best general illustration of this point that could be given is 
afforded by the poultry industry in such European countries as France and Bel- 
gium, which, though densely populated, export considerable quantities of poultry 
and eggs. The interest of the peasants of these countries in poultry is often cited as 
showing their appreciation of the possibilities of profit from poultry. As the matter 
has usually been stated, it is made to appear that poultry culture is of paramount 
interest in the lives of these peasants ; but this is not the case. Its true status 
was shown by M. Louis Vander Snickt in an address at the Second National 
Poultry Conference, in England, in 1907, when he made the statement that 
" the more careful and thrifty " of the Belgian people in the Campine country 
ultimately ceased to breed poultry and engaged in horticulture. They made this 
change not entirely because horticulture was more profitable, but because their 
land, after long use for poultry, became unsuitable for poultry and adapted to 
fruit growing, as it was not in the beginning. 


described presently), and occasionally instances of individuals who, 
because of special advantages, were able to make a living when the 
majority failed, or because they were satisfied with simpler living. 
The reasons for the persistence of efforts to establish poultry plants 
on intensive lines, notwithstanding the failures, are briefly : 

1 . The prevailing tendencies of the times to extend the appli- 
cation of mechanical ideas in all pursuits, to carry the division of 
labor to an extreme, and to specialize in production. 

2. That the greatest actual production is obtained by intensive 
culture, and the common methods of reckoning profits make it 
appear that profit is in proportion to production. 

3. That large projects on this basis are extensively exploited in 
print, both in advance of their establishment and while in opera- 
tion, but notice of their abandonment is rarely published. 

4. That persons becoming interested in the financial possibili- 
ties of poultry keeping almost invariably turn from information or 
advice not in accord with their wishes, and follow an alluring 
counsel, regardless alike of the warnings of better authorities, of 
the experience of others, and of their own common sense. 

With such potent influences operating to induce men to exhaust 
both capital and ingenuity before admitting that intensive methods 
were not adapted to continuous poultry culture, the facts as to the 
general status of the industry, though obvious when seen from a 
right point of view, secured no wide recognition until the effort to 
establish poultry culture on an intensive basis had passed its cul- 
mination and the developments along natural lines had reached a 
stage where a fair general comparison of results plainly showed 
that permanent poultry culture must, as a rule, be part of a diver- 
sified agriculture. The reasons for this will become apparent as 
the subject is developed in this book. 

Poultry culture is a necessary feature in agriculture. The 
various kinds of poultry, alike in their general adaptability to the 
land and to conditions of agricultural life, are so different in struc- 
ture and habits that full utilization of the opportunities which a 
farm affords for the profitable production of poultry nearly always 
requires the keeping of more than one of the common kinds. 
Often fowls, turkeys, ducks, and geese may all be kept to advan- 
tage. When the area of land cultivated is too small to be called 


a farm, the best possible use of the land will still, in most instances, 
require that some poultry be kept. On still smaller areas poultry 
keeping may be carried on, but not on a scale or under condi- 
tions which admit of maintaining a stock at normal vigor with- 
out frequent renewals from outside sources where conditions 
are more favorable. 

Poultry culture is a diversified industry. As a farm usually 
affords opportunity for the production of the common kinds of 
poultry, so in nearly all localities a demand is found for all kinds 
of poultry products. In many places the local production of some 
or all of these may be more than sufficient to meet the local de- 
mand, and this is the case in most sections where agriculture is the 
most important industry. In that event, production for shipment 
may include all lines or be limited to a few or, in rare instances, 
to one line, according to the requirements of available markets and 
the adaptation of local conditions to special lines of production. 
In manufacturing and mining sections, and in the vicinity of great 
cities, the local production meets but a small part of the demand. 
In such sections, and especially in the cities, there is apt to be a 
large demand for poultry products of a kind or quality for which 
the demand in small places is too limited to furnish inducements 
to local producers. In the nonagricultural communities, too, the 
bulk of the poultry products comes from a distance and is likely to 
have deteriorated somewhat before reaching the consumer. Hence 
near-by products of good quality command a premium. Under such 
conditions specialization in poultry culture may be carried much far- 
ther than is usually profitable, large farms may be devoted almost 
wholly to poultry keeping, and, if climatic and soil conditions are 
favorable, intensive practice may be followed for a long time with- 
out marked unfavorable results. 

Branches of poultry culture. It being understood that poul- 
try keeping is rarely an exclusive business, and that in practice 
two or more branches of poultry culture are usually combined, 
the various lines may now be described. Poultry products may 
be divided into two general classes, market products and fancy 

The market products of poultry are eggs and meat, with feathers 
and manure as by-products. 


Eggs tised for food are almost wholly the eggs of fowls, the 
proportion of eggs of ducks, geese, and turkeys entering into 
consumption being insignificant. The value of the annual pro- 
duction of market eggs (mostly hens' eggs) in the United States 
equals or exceeds the total value of the meat product of fowls, 
turkeys, ducks, and geese. The production of eggs for food is 
the principal branch of poultry culture. With the vast majority 
of poultry keepers it is the prirrie object, other lines being 
incidental or supplementary. Under proper conditions even a 
very moderate egg yield will return a fair profit anywhere. 

FIG. 3. An egg farm near Boston, on which the long houses, without yards, are 
grouped near the dwelling, and the fowls range over the farm 

Poultry meat used for food is produced principally from fowls, 
though large quantities of all other kinds of poultry are used. The 
bulk of the crop of fowls and chickens marketed each year is inciden- 
tal to egg production to this extent : Most farmers and poultry keep- 
ers maintain laying flocks of about the same numbers, or slightly 
increasing, from year to year. To keep these flocks at the most 
profitable stage of productiveness it is necessary to renew annually 
from one half to nearly the entire number (according to the breed). 
The cockerels not required for breeding and the old stock to be 
turned off make up the most of the meat of the fowls used for 
food. A large part of this stock is turned off at the convenience 
of the producer, without regard to market conditions or demands. 
To supply special demands, particularly at seasons when there is 


FIG. 4. A New England town poultry plant built up in spare time 
Note the variety in houses 

little poultry on the market and prices are high, poultry keepers 
favorably located engage in specialties like the growing of broilers 
and roasters. 

Egg farming the most important branch of poultry culture. As 
has been stated, the production of eggs is carried on principally as an 
incidental line in general farming. In most cases the farm flocks 
of poultry are maintained primarily to supply the household with 
eggs and meat, the products marketed being the surplus remaining 

FIG. 5. Intensive plant on a Philadelphia business man's country place 
Land area small ; investment large ; labor costly 



after home wants are satisfied. Ordinary farm conditions and 
methods need not be described here, but some of the special 
developments along this line must be described as to their general 
features, though discussion of these features will come more appro- 
priately under special topics. 

Factory methods in poultry culture. The intensive poultry 
plant devoted primarily to egg production, with the sale of market 
poultry and often of thoroughbred stock and eggs for hatching as 
accessories, was long the most conspicuous type of plant classed as 

FIG. 6. Poultry plant of A. G. Duston, at Marlboro, Massachusetts. Considered 
a model plant when built, about 1890. Used about ten years, then moved to 
South Framingham, Massachusetts, and rebuilt on an extensive plan. (Photo- 
graph from Mr. Duston) 

an " egg farm." This may be briefly described as an enlargement 
of the city poultry yard. The common object was to keep the 
largest possible number of fowls on a given area, keeping them 
closely confined and supplying them with all kinds of food needed. 
Usually the land accommodations were very limited, and the poul- 
tryman made no effort to grow any food except perhaps a little 
green food or to make any use of his land except for poultry. 
This was the typical plant, in area from two to ten or twelve 
acres. Often the larger plots had little more actual capacity than 



plots of less than half their size, because the character of much of 
the land made it impossible to use it with this system. These plants, 
almost without exception, used artificial methods of hatching and 
brooding. On many of them the young chickens were grown 
under conditions not much better than those to which the old 
stock were subjected. On others conditions for the young stock 
were made as favorable as available land would permit. Those 
operating such plants generally considered it necessary to renew 
practically the entire stock each year. Hence it was necessary 
to grow each year about twice as many chicks as there were old 
birds on the place, which is difficult to do in a restricted area. 

FIG. 7. The poultry plant on a fine estate at Goshen, New York, combining 

both intensive and extensive features. Buildings very expensive. (Photograph 

from Willowcrest Farm) 

On large intensive plants it was necessary that much of the labor 
employed should be skilled labor, expert in handling poultry 
under highly artificial conditions and in the use of artificial methods 
of 'hatching and brooding. Plants of this type were most numerous 
from 1890 to 1900, and were a conspicuous feature in southern 
New England throughout that period. Elsewhere they were not so 
numerous, though the total number throughout the country was 
very large. The prosperity of these plants was generally fictitious. 
Most of them were short-lived. In many instances good profits were 
made for a year or perhaps a short series of years, but, for reasons 
which will be stated in the discussion of systems, prosperity was 
ephemeral in all but a few cases. Unbiased persons familiar with 


the poultry industry now generally agree that this type of plant 
cannot be maintained on a large scale continuously. 1 

Farm methods. Egg farming by the colony system has been 
developed on an extensive scale in the district about Little Comp- 
ton, Rhode Island. The colony plan is used to some extent in 
other places, but in this district almost every farm makes the 
keeping of poultry for eggs a specialty, and all use the same plan 
of housing, and in general the same methods. 

By the colony plan the stock of fowls is distributed over the land 
in small flocks. Ideally the system is to move the houses at least 
once a year, but in practice they are usually allowed to remain in 
one place much longer. That, however, is largely dependent upon 
the convenience of the farmer and upon other uses which he may 
wish to make of the land. Land good for other purposes is not as 
likely to be continuously occupied by poultry as land which cannot 
be advantageously cropped. No fences are used. 2 The houses are 
frequently placed in pastures, and it is not unusual to see fowls, 
geese, and cattle in the same pasture. Houses may be only a few 
rods apart, or there may be but four or five houses (each holding 
about thirty-five birds) on as many acres of land. The usual prac- 
tice is to renew about half the stock each year. This requires the 
rearing of not many more chickens each year than there are old 

1 A great many persons who profess to be, or are by some considered, competent 
to speak on this point may still be found who will assert that this statement is 
incorrect, and cite instances of large intensive plants said to be financially success- 
ful. To the author as a poultry journalist trying to learn and make public the 
truth about such things, these plants and the claims made for them were trouble- 
some, until he adopted the plan of declining to accept the existence of such plants 
as proof of the value of their methods unless the plants had been in operation 
under the same ownership for ten years. Other tests might have been applied, 
but this was found sufficient. With the exceptions to be noted in this chapter, 
instances of large intensive poultry plants in operation for ten years under the 
same management are very rare. Of those started with large capital not one (so 
far as the writer can remember or learn) lasted so long. This fact puts the bur- 
den of proof on those who claim to succeed by such methods. The reader, if not 
convinced, by what he learns of the principles of poultry keeping, that such claims 
are not valid, should at least decline to accept them until they are established by 
evidence beyond dispute. As a rule the reports and financial statements put out 
are incomplete, inadequate, and therefore essentially false. 

2 Except when pullets are first put in the large colony houses, when a small 
yard is made, of stakes and poultry netting, to keep them from wandering off 
before they become wonted to the house. 

FIG. 8. Field showing colony system at Little Compton, Rhode Island 

FIG. 9. One of the low houses in Fig. 8. When cattle are in the pasture the 
fence is adjusted to keep them from the hens' food and water 

FIG. 10. Colony poultry houses on the farm of F. W. C. Almy, 
Tiverton Four Corners, Rhode Island 


FIG. n. William Sisson's dough cart on its morning round. Note the rocky land 

FIG. 12. Coops for young chickens on the farm of F. W. C. Almy. The hens are 
confined to the coops until the chickens no longer need brooding 

FIG. 13. George Butler's dough cart returning from the evening 
collection of eggs 


FIG. 14. Skids attached to front gear of wagon used for moving colony 
poultry houses 

FIG. 15. Bank of outdoor nests for setting hens, at north side of building in Fig. 14 

FIG. 16. Cookhouse, with drive through and feedhouse adjoining; a colony 

house at right 



FIG. 17. A common style of coop 
for chickens 

FIG. 18. A stack gives shade at 
all times 

FIG. 19. Old-style coop, without 

FIG. 20. Cookhouse on the farm 
of F. W. C. Almy 

FIG. 21. Bricked-up set-kettle for FIG. 22. Pullets confined when first 

cooking feed put in laying houses 




birds on the place. Natural methods of incubating and brooding 
are used almost exclusively. The greater part of the grain is pur- 
chased, though nearly every farmer grows a few hundred bushels 
of corn each year. Inexpert labor is largely used, and much of 
the work is done with horse and wagon. 

By the methods thus briefly outlined, the farmers of this section 
make " egg farming " continuously profitable, though the average 
profit on a " per hen " basis is small. 1 

The Petaluma district in California. This is better known, by 
name and reputation, to the general public, and perhaps also to 
most poultry keepers, than the district just described, though it may 
be doubted 2 whether the developments there are of as great im- 
portance. In many respects Petaluma conditions and methods are 
almost opposite those used in the Rhode Island colony section. In 
the Rhode Island district natural methods and primitive appliances 
are used almost exclusively ; the Petaluma industry is developed 
along artificial lines and uses an intensive system. Producing for 
a market which prefers a white egg, it uses the White Leghorn, as 
do the egg farms supplying the New York market. The farms are 
mostly small, from five to ten acres. Instead of small houses placed 
far apart, larger houses in groups are used. Hatching is done largely 
by men who make a business of hatching chicks for others. The 
chicks are brooded in lots of many hundreds. An incubator 

1 It is generally difficult, to get exact figures. I have been told of profits as 
high as $1.50 per hen for flocks of 400 to 500, but for the flocks of double those 
numbers and upwards the best estimates I can get from the farmers place average 
profits estimated on the "per hen " basis at about 80 cents (ahead) above the cost of 
feed. The routine work of caring for 1200 to 1500 laying hens takes about three or 
four hours of the time of an unskilled laborer, employed at $20 or $25 per month, 
with board. Irregular work for the poultry probably brings this up to make the lay- 
ing hens chargeable for about half the wages of the man who cares for them. Other 
common sources of income on these farms are from cockerels and old hens 
marketed, from geese, from cows, and from the sale of hay. Thus the net cash 
income on a farm operated by one man, with one laborer regularly employed and 
occasional day help, may be very much larger than that of the average farmer any- 
where. One farmer in this district, who maintains a stock of about 2000 laying hens 
and gives little attention to geese or cows, has made the statement that for a num- 
ber of years he has been able to live well and still save not less than $1000 a year. 

2 Not being personally acquainted with the Petaluma district, I can make no 
positive statements in regard to the conditions there. Accounts of it by different 
persons are generally more or less contradictory, and accounts by the same person 
are sometimes inconsistent. 

FIG. 23. The houses are closely grouped. (Photograph by M. A. Jull) 

FIG. 24. A colony of 500 White Leghorns. (Photograph by D. J. Lane) 

FIG. 25. Twenty-five hundred fowls on seven acres. (Photograph by D. J. Lane) 


FIG. 26. Fowls on range. (Photograph by D. J. Lane) 

FIG. 27. Brooder houses used at Petaluma. (Photograph by M. A. Jull) 

FIG. 28. Brooder stove to provide FIG. 29. As high as 400 cases of eggs 

heat for 1600 chicks. (Photograph a day shipped from this store. (Photo- 

by D. J. Lane) graph by D. J. Lane) 




manufacturer has been the moving spirit in the development of this 
industry here, and, like most far-western districts famed for any 
product, it has been widely exploited by real-estate interests. While 
the product is different, the egg farms of Petaluma in several im- 
portant respects resemble the soft-roaster 1 farms of New England 
mentioned a little farther on. On general principles, as observed 
in developments elsewhere, it may fairly be presumed that, while 
the general accounts of, and claims for, the industry in the Peta- 
luma district, and for the methods used there, are somewhat 
exaggerated, the industry as developed there suits the existing 
conditions and gives good profits to a fair proportion of those en- 
gaging in it. How long the present methods will continue will 
depend on developments beyond the district quite as much as on 
conditions in it. Almost invariably, specializing in poultry keeping 
succeeds only for a short time, the success of the specialist stimu- 
lating farmers generally to give more attention to that line, and 
so to increase the supply and reduce the profits of the specialist. 
Experience in other places also indicates that after a time the 
intensive methods used at Petaluma must be modified. 

Broiler farming. Broiler growing as a specialty began to attract 
a great deal of attention about 1890. Interest developed at that 
period as a result of sensational stories published about the extent 
of operations in this line in and about Hammonton, New Jersey, and 
the large profits obtained. Broiler growing in this vicinity has been 
carried on principally as a winter occupation by men engaged in 
fruit culture, gardening, or other work which did not require all 
their time at that season. Their operations were not usually on 
a large scale. So conducted, the " business " brought the broiler 
grower some income at a time when he had little from other sources. 
When his results were unusually good, and he caught the market 
right, his profits might be considerable, but the average profit as 
stated by growers who kept careful accounts was only about twenty 
cents a bird. Instances were cited in the early days of as high as 
$400 profit in one season on a broiler plant of 1000 capacity run 
for seven months in trie year. 

1 Chickens specially grown to be marketed as roasters are disposed of by the 
growers while the flesh is soft ; hence the term soft roaster," distinguishing such 
from the ordinary roasting chickens, which are often hard-meated. 



The facts about the broiler business at Hammonton were widely 
published, but as usual the fictions gained wider credence, and 
for some ten or fifteen years big broiler plants were built up in 
various parts of the country, many of them undertaking to pro- 
duce broilers the year round. None of these plants succeeded, 

FIG. 30. Soft-roaster plant of Farrer Brothers, West Norwell, Mass. 

and some of them involved their owners in heavy losses. The 
most celebrated broiler plant was that known as the " Mary L. 
Poultry Plant," at Sidney, Ohio. It is said that the owner 
admitted having lost over one hundred thousand dollars on 
the plant, and it is commonly believed among poultrymen that 
his losses were very much larger. In recent years few efforts 

FIG. 31. Part of soft-roaster plant of Henry D. Smith, Hanover, Mass. 


have been made to 
establish plants exclu- 
sively for the produc- 
tion of broilers. Broiler 
growing is now gener- 
ally assigned its proper 
place, as a feature in 
diversified poultry cul- 
ture or as a specialty 
for persons whose regu- 
lar occupation will al- 
low them to engage 
in the production of 
broilers in winter. 

Roaster growing. A 
special phase of poul- 
try culture is the grow- 
ing of large roasting chickens for the early summer trade in the large 
cities and pleasure resorts. It has been carried on for a great many 
years in a small way, chiefly by people in the vicinity, of Philadel- 
phia, its standing with those engaged in it being much the same as 
that of broiler growing. The roasters grown in this vicinity became 

FIG. 32. Fifty half-grown Light Brahma chickens in 
house 6 ft. x 8 ft., which they occupy from wean- 
ing to maturity. The plan works well for winter 
chickens marketed before hot weather 

FIG. 33. Colony houses for winter chickens. (Continuing Fig. 31) 

FIG. 34. Soft-roaster plant of Archie Torrey, Rockland, Mass. 

FIG. 35. Colony house for winter 
chickens, used by Farrer Brothers 

FIG. 36. Colony house for winter 
chickens, used by H. D. Smith 

FIG. 37. Row of colony houses for winter chickens on the farm of 
E. O. Damon, Hanover, Mass. 



FIG. 38. Colony house for winter 

chickens, used by J. H. Curtiss, 

West Norwell, Mass. 

FIG. 39. Incubator cellar built into 

a bank on plant of Samuel Bates, 

West Norwell, Mass. 

FIG. 40. Brooder house of Farrer Brothers, West Norwell, Mass. 

FIG. 41. H. D. Smith's incubator cellar; FIG. 42. Oil barrel and tank connect 
only the roof aboveground with faucet inside. (Rear of Fig. 41) 




famous in Philadelphia and other large eastern cities as " Phila- 
delphia chickens." It seems probable that this line was carried on 
in the same way by a few people near other large cities in the East, 
though nothing definite can be learned. A few years previous to 
1 890 it began to develop on a more extensive scale in the vicinity of 
Norwell, Rockland, Hanover, and other towns in what is known as 
the South Shore district of eastern Massachusetts, and soon many 
people in these towns were engaged in it, some on a small scale, 
as a side line, others giving their time wholly to it and grow- 
ing from 2000 to 4000 or 5000 chickens each year. The profits 
on this line of production were considerable, usually estimated at 
one dollar per bird, and sometimes a great deal more than that on 
the smaller lots. 

The success of the business in this district has induced many 
to come here to engage in it, and has led others to attempt it 
elsewhere. Efforts to develop this line as a specialty outside the 
district 1 have almost invariably been discontinued at an early stage 
because of the difficulty of getting fertile eggs for hatching at 
the season at which they are required. Newcomers in the dis- 
trict experience some of the same difficulty, because the most 
reliable supplies are, as a rule, known and engaged by the growers 
acquainted with the farmers who supply the eggs. The grower 
in the district also has an important advantage in the market- 
ing of his product, a point which will be more fully considered 
when the matter of cooperation in selling is discussed. Artificial 
methods of incubating and brooding are used by all growers 
producing any considerable number of chickens, and skill in 
handling incubators and brooders is a most important element 
in success in this line. 

Duck growing. This is the one branch of poultry culture in 
which plants of large capacity have been successfully developed. 
Factory methods have been applied much more satisfactorily in 
duck growing than in any other line of poultry culture. There are 

1 From the quantities of soft roasters now coming to Boston in small lots, 
it appears that an increasing number of poultrymen in other places in the 
vicinity are growing this class of poultry on a small scale, with other poultry 
lines. The effect of such a development on the industry in the soft-roaster 
section remains to be seen. 

FIG. 43. Duck farms at Speonk, Long Island. The Hallock farm No. i in the 
foreground ; in the distance, the Wilcox farm 

FIG. 44. Another view of Fig. 43. There are 25,000 to 30,000 ducks in sight 

FIG. 45. Ducklings on Hallock duck farm No. 2, Center Moriches, Long Island 




FIG. 46. Feeding young ducks from 

track over pens at Hallock duck 

farm No. i 

two principal reasons for this. In the first place ducks are not as 

sensitive to the effects of filth in their food or on the land that they 

occupy as are fowls. In the second 
place they are less disposed to 
quarrel among themselves than 
fowls, turkeys, and geese. There 
are many plants in the eastern 
states growing from 5000 to 
10,000 or 12,000 ducks a year, 
a number growing up to 20,000, 
and some with an annual pro- 
duction of over 50,000. One 
man on Long Island operates 
two farms, the combined annual 

output of which is about 75,000 to 80,000. Duck growing as a 

specialty is the production of ''green" ducks, that is, young 

ducks killed at about ten weeks 

of age, when they should weigh, 

dressed, five to six pounds each. 

Much of the weight at this 

stage is soft fat, which cooks 

away, but the epicures in the 

cities will pay as much for the 

duck at this age as later, when 

a greater proportion of the 

weight is meat, and the profit 

in ducks for market is in the 

" green " duck. 1 

This line of duck growing 

is said to have been conducted 

on a relatively large scale on 

Long Island since before 1860. 

The breed of ducks used prior 

to the introduction of the Pekin 

duck was the White Muscovy. 

Until about 1891 or 1892 the ducklings were hatched with hens, 

and the largest growers raised only a few thousand. Then artificial 

1 The marketmen say, " The green duck is a gold brick." 

FIG. 47. Track through feed room at 
Hallock duck farm No. i 


methods were introduced. Since that time the business has devel- 
oped, sometimes to the numbers mentioned above, on a great 
many farms here and on some in other sections. The Long Island 

FIG. 48. View of Weber Brothers' duck farm, Wrentham, Mass. 

duck farms are quite invariably located on streams, with yards 
for both breeding stock and growing ducklings extending into the 
water. The inland duck farms usually give the ducks no water 

FIG. 49. Breeding stock at Weber Brothers' duck farm 

except for drinking purposes. 1 From observation of conditions 
and methods on coast and inland duck farms the author is of the 

1 Mr. James Rankin, in his " Duck Culture " (1897 edition), stated that his ducks 
seemed to have lost all desire for water for other purposes than drinking, and even 
the texture of their feathers seemed changed so that they would no longer shed 
water. I did not find this the case with stock bought of Mr. Rankin. It took to 
the water at the first opportunity as readily as any. 

FIG. 50. Nursery brooder house (200 feet long) 

FIG. 51. Baby ducks (one week old) FIG. 52. Baby ducks (two weeks old) 

FIG. 53. Cold brooder house. (Ducklings three weeks old) 

5 2 



opinion that ducks are grown with less labor on the coast farms ; 
but it would be a very difficult matter to determine any point of 
this kind in a comparison which, to be accurate, would have to con- 
sider the personalities of the proprietors, as well as other points 

FIG. 54. Fattening sheds at Weber Brothers' farm. (From the east) 

affecting results. Some of the coast farms have been used for duck 
growing for over half a century, and some of the largest inland farms 
for twenty-five or thirty years. When developed on a very large 

FIG. 55. Fattening sheds seen in Fig. 54. Five thousand ducks feeding. 
(From the west) 

scale, duck growing is usually an exclusive business. On a smaller 

scale it is usually combined with other branches of poultry culture. 

As might be inferred from the comparative ease of developing 

the business, it is the branch of poultry culture in which supply 



oftenest overtakes demand. While the demand grows steadily, 
production constantly tends to more rapid increase. As a result, 
in the history of duck growing there has been, at quite regular 
intervals, an overproduction followed by a temporary curtailment 
of operations. While large duck plants flourish only near the 
markets where the demand is good, producers of market poultry 

FIG. 56. Central grain storehouse FIG. 57. Section of house for breeders 

FIG. 58. Section of a fattening shed FIG. 59. Killing and packing house 


everywhere find sale for some ducks at good prices, and when 
good ducks are placed on a market, the demand rapidly increases. 
Goose growing. Though less general than the growing of 
ducks, goose growing is carried on by a few people in almost 
every community. Throughout the greater part of the country, 
geese are grown in these scattered (and usually small) flocks, 
mainly for the Christmas market. In some parts of the East, 



notably in Rhode Island and parts of southeastern Massachusetts, 
the growing of " green " geese, to be marketed at about twelve 
weeks of age, is extensively carried on, almost every farm in a 
community growing geese, and the number of goslings grown 
on a farm sometimes reaching four or five hundred, though the 
average is perhaps less than half as many. 

The colony egg-farming district of Rhode Island is perhaps 
the most important goose-growing district in the United States. 
Goslings are usually hatched by hens (few men have succeeded 

FIG. 60. Flock of breeding geese in a Rhode Island pasture 
(Photograph from Isaac Wilbour) 

in hatching the eggs by artificial means), and the large stocks of 
laying hens kept here and the considerable areas of pasture land 
available for the goslings make the conditions especially favorable 
for goose growing on a larger scale than is usual. It is probable 
that this branch of the industry could be much more extensively 
developed in many localities than it is, for the demand is increas- 
ing, and good geese bring high prices not only at the holiday 
season but, in more limited quantities, at other seasons. 

Goose fattening as a special line is carried on by some men in 
goose-growing districts, and also by some near the large eastern 

FIG. 61. Hen with brood of goslings FIG. 62. Three-weeks goslings grazing 

FIG. 63. Captive wild geese with 

FIG. 64. Wild gander, African goose, 
'and mongrel goslings 

FIG. 65. Geese and fowls in same 

FIG. 66. Feeding and watering 
fattening geese 



FIG. 67. Fattening geese on pond at Cornell Farm, Adamsville, Rhode Island 

FIG. 68. View of the Austin Farm, Mansfield, Massachusetts 

FIG. 69. Fattening geese in pens on the Austin Farm 




cities who are engaged in buying and dressing poultry. The 
tendency, however, is for growers to fatten their own geese, hence 
the fatteners use mostly geese from districts where growers are 
rather indifferent to market demands. 

Turkey growing. Although much more generally engaged in 
than goose growing, turkey culture is another branch never devel- 
oped on a large scale. Unlike the other lines mentioned, special 

FIG. 70. Bronze turkeys in woods at 

Simsbury, Connecticut. (Photograph 

from Valley Farm) 

FIG. 71. Turkey roost in shelter of 

barn, on the Horace Miner Farm, 

Westerly, Rhode Island 

FIG. 72. A family of White Holland 

FIG. 73. A family of Black Norfolk 

attention to turkey growing is oftenest found in the western states, 
and production in the East steadily decreases. This is due partly to 
changed labor conditions and partly to the fact that the large farms 
of the West afford conditions more favorable to the keeping of large 
flocks of turkeys. It is quite commonly believed that the decline 
of turkey growing in the East, and especially in Rhode Island and 
eastern Connecticut, where it was once an important industry, is 


due to the prevalence of the disease known as blackhead. That 
this view is erroneous is evident from the fact that, though the 
industry has declined in districts that once produced many turkeys, 
a number of persons continue to grow them as successfully as ever. 

The greater part of the annual turkey crop now comes from 
the Central West and the mountain regions of the South, where, 
though they are grown in smaller flocks, the total production is 
large. Vermont and parts of New York and Pennsylvania produce 
large quantities of turkeys. In the situations most favorable to it 
the turkey lives largely by foraging in the fields and woods beyond 
the range usually covered by fowls. Turkeys may be grown in 
confinement, but not profitably. The conditions most favorable to 
their production include good range, little restriction on their move- 
ments, and still enough attention to provide for all their wants and 
insure protection from their enemies. 1 

Other kinds of poultry. Peafowls, guineas, pheasants, swans, 
and ostriches are not of general economic importance, though 
there are a few breeders of pheasants and ostriches growing them 
on quite a large scale. 

Fancy poultry. Breeding fancy poultry is principally the pro- 
duction of fowls for exhibition. The interest in other kinds of poul- 
try for this purpose is far less general and less intense. As a 
rule, competition in turkeys, ducks, and geese is not keen. In the 
rarer varieties there is almost no competition, most of the displays 
being for exhibition only. They are rarely seen except at shows 
of considerable importance, and even the managers of these often 
find it difficult to get as many of them as they wish, to add to the 
variety of the exhibit. 

1 1 have made several visits to the turkey-growing district about' Westerly, Rhode 
Island, and have interviewed many turkey growers there and in other parts of the 
East in regard to the causes of the decline in turkey growing in this section. The 
views of two middle-aged women who had been successful turkey growers from girl- 
hood seem to me to sum up the matter. One of these, when asked what difference 
there was between her methods and those of her unsuccessful neighbors, who 
averred that she knew the secret of raising turkeys, said, " The only difference 
I can see is that I am more careful to look after my turkeys in bad weather, when 
they need attention." The other, when asked to what she attributed the decline in 
turkey growing, replied, " The men on the farms are now more interested in 
other things, especially gardening, while the girls as they grow up usually leave 
the farm and go to work in city stores or in factories or hotels ; so that the class 
of labor that was abundant years ago is now almost gone." 



FIG. 74. A pheasantry in the suburbs of Boston. (Photograph from 
E. F. Conness) 

The breeding of fowls for fancy points engages the attention 
of many thousands of people. The greater number of these breed 
on a small scale and primarily for their own pleasure and recrea- 
tion, but many give all their time to it and have considerable capi- 
tal invested in the business. Nearly all make some effort to sell 

stock and eggs for 
hatching. The profits 
in this line of poultry 
culture are much less 
than is generally sup- 
posed. Competition is 
strong and the cost of 
doing business is large 
in proportion to the 
volume of business. 
The seasons for the 
sale of stock and eggs 
are short, and sales 
are much affected by outside influences. Only a small proportion 
of breeders engaged in this line make more than a living, and a 
considerable number of the breeders most prominent at any time 

FIG. 75. Breeding pens of phe 
in same yard 



are men who are trying to build up a business on capital accumu- 
lated from something else. No business started in this way has 
ever continued long. As in " practical " poultry keeping, those 
who succeed are men who have built up a business from small 
beginnings and understand it thoroughly. The others usually lose 
money a great deal faster than the successful ones make it. It is not 
unusual for men with capital, embarking in fancy poultry culture, to 
sink in a year an amount which would represent more than the total 
wealth of most poultrymen who are making money with poultry. 

FIG. 76. Young China pheasants. (Photograph from Simpson's Pheasant 
Farm, Corvallis, Oregon) 

Profitable combinations in poultry culture. Combinations are 
usually made to suit the poultryman and his circumstances. As far 
as the birds are concerned, with room and suitable locations and 
arrangements for all, nearly all kinds might be kept on one tract 
of land under one management. But poultry keepers are not equally 
interested in or adapted to the different lines of work with poultry. 
Whatever the original plan may be in any case, ultimately the work 
is developed along the lines that the poultryman can make most 
profitable, and usually consists of one principal line with several 
others incidental. The combination of market and fancy poultry 



FIG. 77. Colony of young pheasants in an oat field 
(Photograph from Simpson's Pheasant Farm) 

culture is general, sometimes one, sometimes the other, being of 
primary importance. Naturally it is oftenest the market lines that 

are considered first, but 
if the poultryman de- 
velops special skill as 
a breeder and salesman, 
the relative positions of 
the two lines may soon 
be reversed. 

Profitable combina- 
tions with poultry cul- 
ture. Poultry culture 
is a necessary feature in 
diversified agriculture 
that develops all the 
possibilities of the or- 
dinary farm. Poultry should be considered as a crop which, accord- 
ing to circumstances, may be grown in rotation with vegetable crops 
or in a system of double cropping. All special branches of agricul- 
ture afford opportunities for profitable combinations with poultry. 

Supply and demand. To many the 'question of overproduction 
seems a most important one. An industry open to every one and 
capable of rapid exten- 
sion from small begin- 
nings appears at first 
thought one in which 
frequent periods of over- 
production are likely to 
occur. In general, how- 
ever, such conditions 
operate to check over- 
production and, when 
it does occur, to quickly 
restore the balance be- 
tween demand and sup- 
ply. There are other 
factors, too, such as transportation and cold-storage facilities, which 
have served to equalize demand and supply. An overproduction in 

FIG. 78. Silver pheasant feeding. (Photograph 
from Simpson's Pheasant Farm) 


one locality, or an excess of receipts in one market, is always (if the 
goods are in good condition) taken care of either by transfer to other 
points or by storage until receipts decrease in volume. Again, since 
so large a proportion of the general supplies of poultry and eggs sent 
to the markets are the surplus of flocks kept primarily to supply 
home requirements, any unusual reduction in prices is likely to be 
promptly followed by increased home consumption, as well as by 
increased market consumption, while on farms where the cost of 
food is not an important item, large flocks may be held for weeks 
or months. It is only in special lines like duck growing that 
overproduction seriously affects growers. Even in these the effects 
hardly ever continue for more than one season. 




The poultry keeper, as distinguished from the breeder and 
fancier, is the producer of poultry and eggs for table purposes, 
either for home use or for market. Theoretically the poultry keeper 
should be a breeder, if not a fancier ; but as a matter of fact the 
proportion who merit that description is insignificant. Broadly 
considered, the function of the plain poultry keeper is to take the 
ordinary stocks of poultry as they run, and produce from them the 
poultry products that the country uses. 

Common tasks of the poultry keeper are easy. In his routine 
work he finds few things in themselves difficult. The troubles of 
those who find poultry keeping an unending series of puzzling 
problems are mostly due to efforts to get certain results with 
factors which cannot give them, or by the use of unnecessarily 
complicated methods. 

Hard problems in poultry culture. The complex problems - 
those which involve a number of comparatively simple matters 
difficult to adjust to the end desired are relatively hard. A few 
examples will show the difference between common (or simple) 
and complex problems. 

The housing of an ordinary small flock is a simple problem. 
Equally satisfactory results might be obtained in any of a dozen 
different types of houses. The arrangement of the houses for a 
large stock of fowls on a certain piece of land is a complex prob- 
lem. The arrangement must be adapted to the lay of the land 
and also to methods of feeding and management. Differences in 
houses, also, which are immaterial when small numbers are kept 
may have to be considered when many buildings are used. The 
feeding of a flock of hens in laying condition is a simple matter ; 



the handling of a stock of hens to have them in laying condition 
when eggs are most in demand is a complex problem. Mating with 
a view only to the reproduction of the species is an extremely 
simple matter, accomplished by allowing males and females to come 
together ; mating to preserve or improve breed or other desirable 
characters is a highly complex problem. 

Hard problems may be easy if worked out step by step. The 
tendency of poultry keepers is to go too fast, and get into posi- 
tions where they are confused by the variety of little problems 
pressing for solution. It seems the hardest thing in the world 
for enthusiasts beginning to specialize in this line to heed the 
oft-repeated warning, to "go slow." When poultry is kept merely 
from custom, and no special efforts are made to increase the flock, 
natural and environmental causes and conditions cooperate to keep 
the numbers about the same from year to year, and the question 
of taking care of a large increase hardly ever arises. But when 
poultry are kept with a purpose, and for the greatest possible profit 
under existing conditions, everything influencing the result sought 
must be adapted and adjusted to it. In many cases preparation 
for the work of one season must begin with the preceding season, 
or even earlier. An unsuccessful hatching season will certainly 
affect the egg crop of the next season, and may affect the breed- 
ing and hatching results of the following year. Delay in getting 
pullets into winter quarters may postpone laying for months. 
Neglect to provide ample coop room for chickens as they grow may 
cause heavy losses and retard the development of chicks that sur- 
vive. A sick bird not promptly removed from the flock may spread 
a contagious disease which will ruin, for breeding purposes, all birds 
of the flock affected, even though they recover and may be used for 
other purposes. Conditions over which the poultry man has no con- 
trol, or only partial control, may also unfavorably affect his results. 

With so many contingencies to consider, an experienced poul- 
tryman rarely plans for a large increase, in one season, over the 
preceding season. The novice who does so rarely succeeds in doing 
more than make such advance as the expert would consider it wise 
to project. Not infrequently he fails to maintain his original num- 
bers, simply because he undertook more than he knew how to do 
and look after every detail at the right time in the right way. 


Problems are simplified by keeping as close to natural conditions 
as is consistent with the object sought. The application of this 
precept is much wider than at first appears. It applies to stock, 
that is, to the type of bird; the "business type" of bird for any 
purpose is a plain type the original type improved and modified 
with reference to use only. Large combs and crests, and feathers 
on legs and feet, are superfluous features which complicate the 
work of caring for the birds and limit their adaptability. It applies 
to housing ; the house that provides only shelter from the elements 
requires least attention from the keeper, and the fowls in it are 
more thrifty. It applies to feeding ; under natural or approximately 
natural conditions feeding ceases to be a problem. It applies to 
breeding ; in nature the fittest to live survive to reproduce their 
kind. The poultry keeper who systematically breeds from vigorous 
birds retains and improves characters dependent upon constitutional 
vigor much more surely than one who, in breeding for those charac- 
ters, uses specimens in which they are more highly developed but 
which are deficient in constitution. It applies to incubation and 
brooding ; although artificial methods are necessary in some lines, 
and perhaps better for some persons or in some cases, as a rule it 
is very much easier to grow poultry by natural methods in the 
natural season. It applies to hygiene ; under natural conditions 
little attention need be given to sanitary condition of houses, coops, 
or soil, while under intensive, unnatural conditions these things 
require constant attention. Its application might be shown in fur- 
ther illustrations, but these cover the points to be considered in 
this section. In no way can the poultry keeper so effectively sim- 
plify his problems and make his work easier from the start as by 
keeping as close as practicable to natural conditions. 

Problems in practice may be essentially different from corre- 
sponding theoretical problems. The theoretical treatment of a 
subject (as of housing or feeding) is 1 general, its object being to 
furnish information which will enable each one who uses it to 
determine what style of house or what method of feeding is best 
suited to his needs. The problems of housing, feeding, etc., as 
already stated, are complex problems. At the point of application 
the nature of the problems changes. Theoretically they become 
simple, practically they become complex. 


For example, take the matter of selecting a breed or variety 
and securing stock of that kind. Intelligent selection must be based 
on a general knowledge of breeds and varieties. After the choice is 
made, the selection of stock would be a very simple matter if all 
stock of the kind desired were of the same quality. But since this 
is not the case, the selection of stock often becomes a most per- 
plexing matter, because, while the general average of characteristics 
of a breed or variety as it may be described in a textbook is fairly 
constant, the quality of the stocks of individual breeders is variable, 
both in different stocks and in the same stock. A good decision as 
to the kind of stock required, the type of house, or the method 
of feeding may be made by a novice after a little study of any of 
these matters. The building of the house then becomes a question 
of his skill in carpentry (if he builds it himself). Learning to use the 
ration selected becomes a question of feeding it for a little while 
according to general directions, then gradually modifying to suit his 
stock and conditions. But to secure such stock as he wants, it may 
be necessary for him to buy and discard in succession the stock of 
several different breeders. 

To get suitable foundation stock is the beginner's most difficult 
problem. This is as true for the beginner who only wants good 
utility stock as for one who wants exhibition stock. It should, how- 
ever, afford some consolation to the beginner disappointed in re- 
sults of purchases of stock to know that the problem of maintaining 
high standards of quality or performance, either within his own 
breeding lines or by judicious introduction of new blood, is the 
greatest and most difficult problem of the expert breeder. The 
novice will usually get his experience and his final start with suit- 
able stock more cheaply if, following the policy of the old breeder, 
he buys stock 1 only on inspection or approval, selecting or ac- 
cepting only stock that is evidently thrifty and in good condition, 

1 Whether to buy stock or eggs is usually considered a moot question. Per- 
sonally, from experience and observation, I believe it is better for the beginner to 
buy stock for breeding, if for no other reason than because by so doing he gains a 
year's experience in breeding. He may buy eggs also, if he can handle more young 
stock than his breeders will produce, or if he wishes to get a line on the quality of 
the stock breeders. Experienced poultrymen (soft-roaster growers excepted) do 
not depend on purchased eggs for hatching, and even among soft-roaster growers 
the practice of buying eggs is decreasing. 


well grown and well developed for its age and kind, free from 
serious faults, and of fair quality according to American Poultry 
Association standards. The descriptions of breeds and varieties 
in Part III will enable him to estimate the quality of stock with 
sufficient accuracy for his purpose. He should on no account ac- 
cept a bird that shows any indication of ill health. If buying 
young birds, he should take only those that are full grown, espe- 
cially avoiding birds said to be late hatched. Such birds are most 
likely to be undersized specimens from early hatches. In any case 
the novice should avoid the late-hatched birds ; some of them make 
valuable breeders in their second breeding season, but they are of 
little service during the first season. As a rule he will find it better 
to buy near home, as he would buy a horse or a cow. The com- 
paratively low cost of transportation for poultry tempts many to 
buy at a distance, of breeders who advertise extensively, but one 
is much surer of getting good stock of the kind under considera- 
tion if he buys the best that he can find in his vicinity. Without 
being extravagant the novice should be willing to pay a fair price 1 
for suitable stock, not only because it is designed to be foundation 
stock, but also for the following important reasons : 

1. He cannot do good work without good stock. An expert 
may. Every problem of the poultry keeper is made more difficult 
when the stock is weak or in any way unsuitable for the purpose 
for which it is used. 

2. Rugged, vigorous stock will stand mishandling when weak 
stock will not. With the best of intentions a novice is likely to 
make some mistakes tending to the detriment of his stock. From 
humane as well as from economic considerations the beginner 
should select stock of great vitality. 

1 The price will depend much on the reputation of the breeder. A breeder 
with no general reputation will often sell at a dollar each birds that could not be 
bought from a breeder of wide reputation for less than five dollars. Those figures 
fairly represent the range of relative prices. One who finds birds to suit him at 
the lower price is fortunate, but if the low-priced birds do not suit, he had better 
pay the higher figures and, if his means are limited, take a smaller number of birds. 



Reference has been made to the influence of certain types of 
poultry on the development of the industry. It is necessary, before 
questions of location, equipment, and methods are taken up, to 
consider some properties of type which bear on these questions. 

What is type ? As used by poultrymen in a general sense the 
term v ' type " denotes a fixed combination of qualities especially 
adapted to definite results (as meat type, egg type, general- 
purpose type, game type), these being the distinct types of fowls 
to which nearly all breeds and varieties may be referred. 

Type and breed. In a state of nature birds of the same kind 
living under the same conditions are, as a rule, of a common type. 
They are of approximately the same size and color, and so nearly 
alike that individuals are not easily distinguished. The type of the 
wild bird is fixed by natural selection. The individual which in any 
character differs greatly from the ordinary type is less likely to 
live and produce offspring ; and when it does, the chance of its 
meeting with a mate like itself is remote. Variation always tends 
to be modified or lost in the common type. 

When birds are brought into domestication, variations occur more 
frequently, and the conditions of the bird's life in domestication 
prevent the general destruction of individuals which depart from 
the usual type. As a result of the preservation of variations, and 
of miscellaneous unions of individuals diverging from the general 
type in many characters, a species in domestication soon reaches 
a condition of mongrelism, the original combination of characters 
becoming very rare, or perhaps entirely disappearing, and no fixed 
combination replacing it. 

Among the numerous types occurring in a mongrelized species 
some are more serviceable than others and some more pleasing to 
the eye of the owner. For one or both of these reasons a particular 



type may become a preferred type. Such a type may closely re- 
semble, either in general or in some conspicuous characters, the 
wild type, or it may be very different. Whatever the type, by con- 
tinuous breeding of males and females nearest that type, it may 
in a few generations become so well established as to reproduce 
itself quite as uniformly as the original wild stock. Such a type, 
as distinguished from mongrel stock of its kind, is called a breed. 
The number of breeds which may be developed within a species 
is theoretically unlimited. Practically it is limited by the difficulty 
that most people experience in properly differentiating between 
types not strikingly dissimilar. 

Breed type. A breed type may be described as a well-established 
artificial combination of characters peculiar to part of a domesti- 
cated species, plainly differentiating it from the rest of the species. 
True breed characters are very few in number. The basis of breed 
type is form. Poultrymen say, " Shape makes the breed." Charac- 
ters determining breed type are size, shape of body, proportions, and 
adjustments to the body of head, neck, wings, legs, and tail. The 
length and texture of the plumage and the color of the skin are 
also features of breed type. 

Breed divisions. Birds of the same breed type may differ in 
superficial characters, such as color of plumage, shape of comb, 
presence or absence of superfluous feathering on head or feet. By 
such differentiation within a breed varieties are established. Varie- 
ties, again, may be divided, according to some minor character, 
into stibvarieties. 

Breed relations. Breed (and variety) types distinct in appearance 
may still be so similar in everything affecting usefulness that they 
are equally well adapted to the general conditions of a region or to 
prevailing market requirements, and are, on the whole, equally serv- 
iceable. Such similar breeds constitute a class. In the selection 
of poultry for a particular location or purpose class type is the 
major consideration ; breed and variety characters are of minor 

Economic classification of fowls. Among the numerous breeds, 
varieties, and subvarieties of fowls are found three principal class 
types, commonly known as the meat type, the egg type, and the 
general-purpose type. It is not necessary here to assign to each 


and every known breed a place in one or another of these classes. 
Only the more familiar breeds need be mentioned. 

The meat type. The best examples of this type are the Brahmas, 
Cochins, and Langshans, comprising the Asiatic class of the 

The egg type is most commonly represented by the Leghorns, 
. though Minorcas, Andalusians, and Anconas are well-known mem- 
bers of the class. These breeds, with the Spanish, constitute the 
Mediterranean class of the fancier. The so-called Dutch and Polish 
classes are of substantially the same type. 

The general-purpose type is an intermediate between the meat 
and egg types. The Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, and Rhode 
Island Reds, known to fanciers as the American class, are the 
principal breeds of this class in this country. The English Orping- 
ton is of the same general type and economically belongs to the 
same class as the three American breeds mentioned. 

Class properties. The designations of the different classes indi- 
cate in a general way their class characters, but taken too literally 
these terms may be misleading. Such terms as "meat type" and 
"egg type " do not mean that the bird is adapted to one purpose to the 
exclusion of the other. They merely describe dominant tendency. 

The Brahma, the most popular representative of the meat type, 
grows to a large size, furnishing abundance of meat, and remains 
soft-meated until well matured, furnishing the somewhat rare combi- 
nation of tender flesh in a large carcass. The tendency at maturity 
is to put on fat rather than to produce eggs, though in skillful hands 
Brahmas are good egg producers. The Leghorn, the most popular 
representative of the egg type, is a small, active fowl, maturing 
quickly, the males especially becoming hard-meated at a very early 
age, making the breed of little value for table purposes. But the 
active temperament of the Leghorn tends to keep it, for a longer 
period than is usual, in the physical condition favorable to reproduc- 
tion under unfavorable conditions, and consequently, though the 
possibilities of egg production may be as great with the Brahma 
as with the Leghorn, good laying is more general among fowls of 
the Leghorn type than among those of the Brahma type. 

In each of these types a superficial character limits the adapt- 
ability and use of the class. The profuse feathering of Asiatic 


fowls, and especially the feathering on the feet, makes them un- 
suitable for many situations. The Mediterranean fowls, with their 
large combs, are ill suited to cold latitudes. The general-purpose 
type of fowl, which is vastly more popular than all others com- 
bined, was developed objectively as a dual-purpose type with ten- 
dencies toward meat and egg production well balanced, but also 
subjectively as a type free from eccentric features, and so adapted 
to the widest range of circumstances. 

In the kinds of poultry other than fowls, class distinctions are 
less sharply drawn. Breeds and varieties are not so numerous, and 
breed and class types may more nearly coincide ; yet, as breeds and 
varieties multiply, the tendency to the creation of classes similar to 
the recognized general classes of fowls becomes apparent. 

All breeds and varieties in a class are substantially alike. They 
require the same conditions^ and treatment and serve the same 
practical purposes. Hence in all questions relating to these points 
only class differences need be considered. If one variety of a class 
is adapted to certain purposes, or thrives under certain conditions 
and treatment, any other variety of the class may serve well the 
same purpose and will thrive under like conditions and treatment. 
If individuals do not, the fault is in the individuals or the keeper. 

Necessary differences in conditions and methods are slight. The 
general-purpose type of fowl is adapted to the widest range of con- 
ditions and requires least attention, but the differences between 
conditions and methods for this type and the Asiatic meat type, on 
the one hand, and the egg type, on the other, seem, when stated, 
quite trivial. The Asiatics do best on sandy soils and in cool 
climates, and require, to make good development, more food than 
a good range affords and, to keep in laying condition, closer and 
more judicious attention than the ordinary poultry keeper gives. 
Fowls of the egg-type class, particularly the males with large combs 
and crests, need- special protection from cold and dampness ; but 
this class requires less attention to feeding than any other. In a 
comparison of classes the class characteristics are in a sense equal- 
ized, but this does not enter into the question as considered in any 
particular undertaking. What each poultry keeper has to consider 
is that, if he selects a breed requiring special attention, his buildings, 
yards, fences, appliances, and methods must be adapted to that 


breed. He should consider carefully in advance whether this is 
worth while, or whether it would be better to choose one not 
requiring unusual care. In some cases it pays to give the extra 
care ; in others it does not. In a combination of fancy and utility 
poultry keeping with the same pure breed, it is also necessary 
to consider whether the conditions and methods established with 
reference to one object will also serve for the other. They may 
or they may not ; and if they do not, it is usually better to develop 
only the line that they suit. As a rule, economies of space or labor 
which are profitable in market poultry growing have a detrimental 
effect on type, while the special care and attention which may 
profitably be given to high-class birds produced for exhibition or 
stock purposes do not pay when applied to the production of 
poultry and eggs for the table. 



Phases of the question of location. In discussing the general 
question of location we consider the two following subjects : 

1 . Matters which directly affect production, local climatic fea- 
tures, exposures, drainage, soils. Such things are of varying values 
in the problem of location as presented to different individuals in 
the same community. 

2. Matters which, while not so intimately affecting production, 
influence and ultimately determine its volume, general climatic 
conditions, markets, transportation facilities, and adaptation of poul- 
try keeping to other interests. Such things are, on the whole, fac- 
tors of like value in the same community. These aspects of the 
question cannot be wholly separated, even for purpose of discussion, 
but the reader should note that, broadly speaking, matters of the 
first class are mostly within control of the poultryman, while mat- 
ters of the second class are mostly beyond his control. 

Most of those interested in poultry have to adapt poultry keeping 
to a location and to conditions determined without reference to it. 
Only a small proportion of those engaging in this line try to locate 
themselves with a view to securing every advantage that location can 
give. From either point of view the facts and principles to be con- 
sidered are the same. The difference is in the application. One 
who is already located must adapt poultry keeping to his location. 
One who can choose his location may decide first what lines of 
poultry keeping to follow, and locate accordingly. In practice, 
very few persons choose their location with reference to poultry 
keeping, even if able to do so. They usually locate in the section 
or place that they prefer to live in, and adapt their poultry keeping 
to circumstances. 

Climate. General climatic conditions are of less importance in 
poultry culture than is commonly supposed. Wherever man can 



live and sustain himself, poultry can be kept and, if the scale of 
operations is properly adjusted, can be kept profitably. It is 
sometimes supposed, and occasionally stated as the result of an 
individual experience, that poultry cannot be kept in certain locali- 
ties or under certain conditions, as high altitudes, proximity to 
salt water, etc. In most cases these views are erroneous. Usually 
they are based upon instances where failure was due to causes not 
peculiar to the locality. Adaptability to a wide range of climatic 
and other conditions is, as has been stated, one of the most valu- 
able characteristics of poultry, but individual birds are not always 
affected alike by radical changes of environment, nor is the same 
individual always equally able to adapt itself to all changes. The 
process of acclimatization requires time. An individual, or a stock 
generally, may be so unfavorably affected by a change that it is ad- 
visable to discard it and try other stock, but, as a rule, by judicious 
care and breeding a stock may* be established anywhere within a 
few years. 

Nor are there such differences in results from poultry under 
different climatic conditions as might be supposed, because, on the 
whole, the advantages and disadvantages due to such conditions are 
equalized in a year's work. Thus the long, rigorous winters of north 
temperate regions are offset by the long, hot summers of the South, 
and the undesirable features of each, though opposite in nature, 
may have the same effects on financial results. 1 

1 Theoretically, there should be an intermediate belt in which conditions 
approached the ideal. If all other conditions could be made uniform for purposes 
of observation, it might be possible to make a survey that would locate such a belt ; 
but no such uniformity can be obtained. The adaptability of poultry to climate 
alone presents an insuperable obstacle to exact computations of the effects of cli- 
mate. The birds could not be kept standardized to one climate while living in an- 
other. The general tendency is for birds of the same breeding to give like results 
within a wide range of climatic conditions, if the food and care are appropriate. In 
milder climates cheaper buildings may be used, and the labor of caring for the 
poultry in winter is reduced ; but in general, production is better where outdoor 
occupations are restricted in winter and the poultry keeper is compelled to give 
his birds careful attention to get any profit, than where many outdoor occupations 
can be carried on all winter and the birds may be given less care without hardship to 
them. Though the season of winter egg production begins earlier in the South, 
production during the period of high prices does not seem to be enough greater 
than in the North to give southern poultry keepers generally larger receipts for 
the winter than are obtained in other sections. 


Special features. Local climatic conditions affecting poultry 
depend, as a rule, upon the character or formation of the land, 
features of the landscape, prevailing winds, etc. Their relations to 
poultry keeping are presented in connection with the topics of soil, 
sunlight, and ventilation. It has been stated that these conditions 
are under the control of the poultryman. This is not true in the 
sense that he can alter them, though sometimes he may ; but when 
he cannot change he can usually avoid them, for in most cases an 
unfavorable local condition affects only a small area, and is escaped 
when buildings for poultry are placed on suitable sites. 

Soils and drainage. That a light, well-drained soil, of little value 
for the production of vegetable crops, is best suited for poultry was 
long a maxim among poultry keepers. Of late years that view has 
been greatly modified. Such a soil has advantages. That it is the 
best soil for exclusive poultry^ keeping by intensive methods can- 
not be denied. Such land can be "easily and continuously stocked 
with poultry longer than any other ; but there is a limit to the 
capacity of any soil to convey excrement and disease germs so far 
below the surface that they will be harmless, and with the passing 
of intensive methods, and the increasing tendency to either stock 
land lightly or rotate poultry on it, the objections to heavy soils 
become of less importance. The special advantages of light soils 
will always be admitted, but such land is no longer regarded as 
the prime requisite, while the fact that under some conditions it 
has decided disadvantages is more generally recognized. 

Clay soils. Clay soils are least suited to poultry, but if surface 
drainage is good, overstocking avoided, and the land frequently 
broken up for tillage, the character of the soil does not present 
a serious obstacle to poultry keeping. 

It is desirable that land on which permanent buildings are 
placed should be of such character or conformation that water 
will not stand near them- and that the poultry will always have the 
use of an area of approximately dry land. With this insurance 
against protracted exposure on cold, damp land, it will be found 
that poultry on a range which affords varied soil conditions are 
more thrifty and make better development than those restricted 
to light, well-drained soils. This is especially noticeable in hot, 
dry seasons. 


Sunlight. So important is this element in poultry keeping that 
it is usual in all northerly latitudes to face the buildings in a south- 
erly direction and, wherever possible, to place them on a slope with 
southerly exposure. Such disposition of buildings is a distinct ad- 
vantage during the winter months, when conditions are most try- 
ing, but is not so essential that all other considerations should be 
subordinate. Lack of such land is no bar to operations with poultry. 
Even a northerly slope, rising from a building facing south, is less 
objectionable in practice than it seems in theory. If such a slope 
is not too abrupt, and is free from elevations, growths, or structures 
which would prevent the sunshine from reaching the buildings, as 
good results may be obtained on it as anywhere. In fact, while 
snow is on the ground and the birds confined to the house, the lay 
of the land makes little difference. A southerly slope is available 
earlier in the spring and later in the fall, and, when bare in the 
winter, is comfortable and attractive when the opposite slope is the 
reverse and birds avoid it. As a rule, situations having the best sun 
exposure in winter are too much exposed to the sun in summer, 
and unless the heat at that season is tempered for the fowls by 
shade, or by yards to the north of the house, the net advantage 
of a sunny situation may be slight. 

Ventilation. Circulation of air is also an important matter and 
must be considered with reference to all seasons and to extreme 
conditions. A situation which in winter is well sheltered and nota- 
bly comfortable may become intolerable in summer, when the heat 
of the sun is intense and the movement of air obstructed by foliage 
both day and night. To this condition in small open spaces in the 
woods is due the generally unsatisfactory results of efforts to keep 
poultry in parts of wooded tracts not adjacent to open areas of con- 
siderable extent. In such places, and in depressions between ridges, 
atmospheric conditions are very often unsuited to poultry. As be- 
tween such conditions and exposure to strong winds, the latter is 
less objectionable, for where circulation of air is naturally obstructed, 
no remedy may be possible ; but it is always possible to provide, 
in wind-swept situations, houses of wind-proof construction and 
such additional windbreaks or shelters as the fowls may require. 

Markets. Every city and town furnishes a market for poultry 
products. A town or small city in an agricultural district is likely 


to be fully supplied from farms in its vicinity, at prices which offer 
no inducement for the extension of poultry growing in that vicinity 
beyond what the ordinary small farm flocks supply. But if poultry 
producers in such a district have easy access to the markets of a 
large city, the local price rises to the city price minus cost of trans- 
portation and distribution. In times of scarcity it may more nearly 
approach prices in the larger market, because of the tendency of 
shippers to that market to keep their goods moving in the usual 
channels and not to interrupt regular trade connections for tempo- 
rary advantage. The large city furnishes an almost constant outlet 
for all supplies that reach it, for every large city is a distributing 
as well as a receiving center. The large cities of the Central West 
store their surplus receipts or ship them to the large eastern cities, 
and these in their turn store them or distribute to cities of lesser 
size in the eastern states, where a large proportion of the population 
is engaged in other than agricultural pursuits. The volume of prod- 
uce shipped from the region between the Mississippi River and 
the Rocky Mountains, considerable though it is, comprises but a 
minor part of the total product of that region. Taking the country 
as a whole, the poultry-trade organization is so efficient that the 
question of a market rarely calls for special consideration, further 
than that, wherever he may be located, the poultry keeper should 
fully inform himself as to available market advantages. 

Transportation. The hauling of supplies and produce between 
the plant and the railway shipping point is the phase of transpor- 
tation to which those keeping large stocks of poultry should give 
special attention. The difference between the cost of a short haul 
and that of a long haul often makes the difference between a living 
profit and a profit so small that the enterprise must be abandoned. 
A plant selling fancy poultry and eggs, or selling table poultry and 
eggs direct to consumers, or one that buys large quantities of sup- 
plies, cannot afford to make long hauls locally. One producing 
most of its supplies, and making deliveries of produce only once 
or twice a week, may not be seriously handicapped by a haul of 
five or six miles. When hauls are not too frequent, the cost may 
be offset by some other advantage, as cheaper land. But if there 
is much hauling to be done, it is a mistake to develop a large 
poultry plant on a site not convenient to railway connections. 


Definitions. Method and system are not always clearly differen- 
tiated, and the terms are often used as synonymous. There are, 
however, many cases in which the difference is apparent. Method 
usually applies to processes, system to series of processes or to 
comprehensive plans, including a variety of more or less related 
processes. 1 

General methods. In poultry keeping methods are described as 
extensive (giving the birds as much room as they can use to their 
own advantage or to the saving of labor for the poultryman) or 
intensive (placing on a given area of land a much larger number 
of birds than the land can support, even for a very brief period, 
with proportionate increase of labor and expense for their main- 
tenance). The common tendency in practice is to go to one or 
the other extreme. The practice best adapted to any particular 
place ! and conditions is usually some combination of extensive and 
intensive methods. 

Essence of system. A system of poultry keeping is a compre- 
hensive plan for adapting conditions and methods to the manage- 
ment of large numbers of poultry. In the development of systems 
of poultry keeping, conditions and appliances are of more impor- 
tance than processes. The object of system is to simplify methods 
and reduce labor, while maintaining conditions favorable to the 

1 The way of killing a fowl is a method. The way of feeding a single lot of 
poultry for any particular purpose is a method. Several related methods of 
feeding poultry for different purposes may constitute a system of feeding. The 
housing of a single lot of poultry supplies a condition. The house is an appliance, 
a part of the permanent equipment of the poultry keeper. " Method of housing " 
would mean merely the act of putting the poultry into the house. The handling 
of a single flock of poultry, though systematic, cannot as a rule be said to consti- 
tute a system. In occasional cases a poultry keeper may carefully work out a 
routine of operations with a single flock which might be called a system, but in 
general the managing of single flocks is merely a combination of methods having 
no special logical relation to each other. 




stock. A system which does not secure these results in any case 
is not adapted to that case. To be generally serviceable, a system 
must be adapted to continuous poultry keeping under ordinary 
conditions. There are two typical systems of poultry keeping, 
extensive and intensive, developed respectively from extensive 
and intensive methods of handling single flocks. 1 

Ordinary farm poultry keeping is theoretically by the extensive 
method. On most farms each kind of poultry is handled as one 
flock, though when the flock is large, several houses may be required 
by birds ranging over the same area. But when more birds are kept 
in one flock than can procure, in the area over which they range, 
the foods that they should procure by foraging, the method actually 

FIG. 79. Beginnings of an extensive system on the farm of Samuel Bates, 
West Norwell, Massachusetts 

becomes intensive. It is not possible to indefinitely increase the 
size of a flock and at the same time to maintain conditions favor- 
able to the birds and to economy of labor. 

Extensive systems. By multiplying the number of flocks kept 
by extensive methods extensive systems are developed. The proper 
development of such a system requires that the houses be placed 

1 In this connection it is appropriate to state the facts in regard to the 
numerous so-called systems of keeping poultry, or of determining facts of value 
to the poultry keeper. The usual claims for a " system " are that it is based upon a 
discovery of the person exploiting it, and that by the system the results that poultry 
keepers desire are assured. The system is offered for sale, and the description of 
it represents it as something to be procured only from its originator. The author, 
in more than twenty years' intimate knowledge of poultry culture, has not found a 
single instance where what was of value in such a " system " was not a matter of 
common knowledge among well-informed poultrymen. In all these systems " what 
is true is not new, and what is new is not true." 



at such (minimum) distance apart, and the number of birds in each 
be so limited, that the area serving as a range for them will provide 
a good foraging ground. The flock is divided into colonies. Hence 

FIG. 80. Extensive system at the Provincial Poultry Breeding Station, 
Edmonton, Alberta. Colony houses with large temporary yards. (Photo- 
graph from the station) 

the name " colony system," applied especially to the following most 
notable systematic development of extensive methods. 

The Rhode Island colony system. The development of a colony 
system of housing poultry, with appropriate methods of management, 

FIG. 81. Colony houses without yards at the Wisconsin Agricultural College 
(Photograph from the college) 

seems so logical and natural that it might reasonably be supposed 
that, as farmers all over the country increased their stocks of poultry, 
this system would be generally adopted. On the contrary, in all but 



one locality, the usual practice was to increase production only as 
long as the stock kept could be handled in one flock. 

Some one in the vicinity of Little Compton, Rhode Island, 
at an early stage of the awakening of interest in poultry keeping, 

saw the advantage of 
retaining the style of 
small house in use and 
of distributing small 
flocks over the land, 
and adopted that sys- 
tem. Others followed 
his example. The 
system was soon in 
general use in a lim- 
ited area in that part of 
Rhode Island and the 

FIG. 82. Large colonies on the farm of A. M. Shaw, 
Groton, N.Y. (Photograph by H. J. Blanchard) 

adjoining part of Massachusetts, poultry keeping became the most 
important interest of the district, and the district became one of the 
largest poultry-producing communities in the world. While occasion- 
ally individuals failed or, because of disease in the flocks, were obliged 
to discontinue operations for a period, on the whole poultry ventures 
flourished and grew to large proportions, were as permanent as other 
branches of agriculture, and were often carried on generation after 

FIG. 83. Colony system on a Pennsylvania farm 

generation by the same families on the same farms. The Rhode 
Island Red, a breed especially adapted to local conditions and 
methods, was developed and long remained peculiar to that locality. 
The development of the colony system in this section began 
about the middle of the last century, but attracted little attention 


outside the district un- 
til recent years. 1 This 
neglect of so impor- 
tant a development 
was due to the gen- 
eral faith in intensive 
methods and to the 
prevailing idea that 
poultry culture on an 
extensive scale could 
only be carried on suc- 
cessfully when artifi- 

FIG. 84. Intensive back-yard plant. (Photograph 
from E. A. Day, Farmington, Minnesota) 

cial methods of incubating and brooding were used, and the sup- 
posed correct principles of housing, feeding, etc. (which made the 

FIG. 85. Intensive system on farm in central Massachusetts. Shelters with small 
attached runs. Note similarity between the unit in this system and the house 

and run in Fig. 84 

ventilation of a house an engineering feat and the feeding of a few 
fowls a chemical problem) were carefully observed. Not until the 

1 I first visited this section and published an account of the system in 1901. 
No extended account of it had previously been published, and the occasional items 
regarding it appearing in one of the poultry papers were hardly noticed. Even to 
this day the greater part of the poultry press is not interested in these poultry 
keepers, who, with few exceptions, neither buy nor sell anything through advertis- 
ing. I would not state positively from memory, and verification would be difficult, 
but to the best of my recollection it was not until five or six years later than the pub- 
lication of my account that investigators of poultry matters began to visit this sec- 
tion, and these were mostly engaged in educational work. 

8 4 


limitations of intensive systems began to be widely recognized was 
any general interest shown in the Rhode Island colony system. 
Nowhere else are extensive methods applied so consistently and on 

so large a scale as in 
the Little Compton 
district. Interest in the 
system elsewhere takes 
the direction mainly of 
seeking to apply fea- 
tures of the system as 
practiced here in modi- 
fication of the intensive 
system. Points relat- 

FIG. 86. View on an intensive plant (no system) ing to this will be COn- 

sidered in their place. 

Ordinary town poultry keeping is by the intensive method. 1 
Few town people who keep fowls are willing to give up to them as 
much land as the flock needs for range, even if they have the land. 
The townsman especially interested in poultry almost invariably 
wants to keep all the poultry that his land will carry by any known 

FIG. 87. An intensive plant (good system). (Photograph from E. T. Brown, 
London, England) 

method. The average flock contains from twelve to fifteen or 
eighteen hens, is housed in a building having a floor surface of 

1 This book does not treat at all the ultraintensive methods of the mushroom 
" systems," widely exploited for a few years but now dying out. The actual de- 
velopments of such systems are insignificant. 


from 80 to 1 20 square feet, and is given a yard of only two or 
three times the area of the house floor. Under such conditions 
poultry can be kept healthy and made productive only by the most 
careful management, including regular provision for exercise and 
the variety of vegetable and animal foods that they get when 
foraging on a good range. If carefully managed, small flocks so 
kept will usually show a better profit per hen and better returns 
for the area of ground that they occupy than flocks kept on range. 
Larger flocks under the same conditions do not, as a rule, give 
returns proportionate to those from the small flocks. Hence it was 
natural for the town poultry keeper, instead of adding to the original 

FIG. 88. Typical breeding-stock house (intensive plan). The yards here are 
only 50 feet long, though available land is practically unlimited 

flock when increasing his stock, to multiply his flocks, just as the 
Rhode Island farmer did, and thus to develop the intensive system. 
Intensive systems. When the small flock in close quarters is 
made the unit, and the conditions duplicated indefinitely, an inten- 
sive system is developed. By such a system the apparent poultry 
capacity of any given area is very large. Four or five hundred hens 
to the acre the advocate of intensive methods did not consider 
crowding, and some systems were calculated for double those 
numbers. The difference between a system providing for four or 
five hundred hens to the acre and one providing for eight hundred 
or a thousand was principally in the allowance of yard room. The 
smaller numbers might be given yards large enough for a part of 
the yard to keep in grass under favorable conditions ; the larger 


numbers were given small, bare yards. Houses were of the same 
style and the sections generally of the same dimensions, though to 
provide for large numbers the space requirements per bird might 
be figured on a smaller allowance and the estimated capacity of 
each section thus increased. 

Seeing no occasion for separating houses, and a distinct advan- 
tage in joining them, intensive poultry keepers developed first 
houses several times as long as those used for a single flock, and 
finally houses ten, twenty, and even fifty times as long, making 

FIG. 89. View of part of poultry plant at Pennsylvania State College, where 
both systems are in use 

the common lengths from 100 to over 200 feet, and in extreme 
cases 500 and (approximately) 600 feet. 

The intensive system has been in general use for about fifty 
or sixty years, but has never been long successful when the 
plant was larger than the owner could care for personally, and 
not often permanent when on such a scale that all of one man's 
time was required. 1 It is still widely used, though attempts to es- 
tablish large plants of that type are less numerous than formerly. 
It is likely to be used for a long time, perhaps always, in many 
instances where it should be at least considerably modified, simply 
because of the common human tendency to undertake more than 
resources warrant. 

1 The writer has not known more than two or three poultrymen who have 
made a living on an intensive plant who would advise others to use the system 
on a large scale, or would continue to use it themselves if they could afford the 
cost and loss of making a change. 


Comparison of extensive and intensive systems. The object of 
comparison of typical extensive and intensive methods and systems 
is to determine the values and applications of each. As indicated 

FIG. 90. Colony houses placed end to the road, with yards running from road 
(Photograph from E. T. Brown, London, England) 

in the statement of the present attitude of poultrymen toward the 
colony system, the best working system will in most cases combine 
extensive and intensive methods. These methods, while different 

FIG. 91. A Massachusetts farmer's adaptation of idea shown in Fig. 90 
Houses (with yards) on both sides of the road 

in many points, are not mutually exclusive, but present the ex- 
tremes, between which there may be as many grades of the two 
in combination as there are persons using them. 

The advantages of the extensive or colony system are: 

i. Conditions most favorable to poultry at all stages of growth. 


2. Low cost of equipment; the house cost per bird may be 
lower for the same number of birds in houses of equal size. With 
good range the birds use the house less, when there is no snow on 
the ground, and a larger number of birds may be kept in colony 
houses than in the sections of the same floor area in a continuous 
sectional house with small yards. 

3. Economy of labor (when snow does not lie long on the 
ground) and larger utilization of unskilled labor. Birds kept under 
natural conditions do not require the constant dieting and nursing 

FIG. 92. Pittsfield Poultry Farm, Pittsfield, Maine, where intensive and extensive 

systems are combined, large yards for adult stock and young stock grown in 

orchards on the colony system 

too often necessary on intensive plants, and many things to which 
the intensive poultry keeper must give his constant personal 
attention may safely be left to unskilled help. There is also less 
need of scrupulous cleanliness. 

4. Economy of food ; the birds pick a large part of their living. 

5. Improvement of land, and sometimes double cropping of 
land, especially with young poultry. 

6. Stability of value of equipment ; when small, movable houses 
are used, they are salable at their full value at any time. 

The disadvantages of the extensive or colony system are : 

1. Added labor in bad weather, particularly when snow keeps 
the birds in the houses. 

2. Unfavorable conditions for the birds when long confined to 
houses designed only for roosting and laying quarters. 


3. Difficulty of controlling disease when the flocks mingle. 

In a summary of advantages and disadvantages it appears that 
the colony system is a system best adapted to mild climates, where 
winters are short ; and that for its extensive development a farm 
of considerable acreage is required. 

The advantages of an intensive system are : 

1 . More favorable conditions for the fowls in winter weather or 
extremely rough weather at any season. 

2. Comfort and convenience of poultry keeper in bad weather. 

FIG. 93. The long houses are 200 feet long by 20 feet wide. The house at the ex- 
treme right has small compartments for special matings. (Continuing Fig. 92) 
(Photograph from Pittsfield Poultry Farm) 

3. Admits of keeping a large stock of adult birds (and young 
ducks) on small areas. 

The disadvantages of an intensive system are : 

1 . Unfavorable conditions for adult stock in warm weather and 
unsuitable conditions for the breeding birds and young stock. 5 

2. Added cost of labor at all seasons when the birds should 
be on range. 

3. Added cost of food at all seasons when the birds should be 
on range. 

4. Increased cost of equipment, buildings costing, on the whole, 
considerably more than for colonized flocks, and the cost of fences 
being a comparatively large item. 

5 . Contamination of land and expense of keeping small perma- 
nent yards in good sanitary condition. 


6. Instability of value of buildings ; when an intensive plant 
is discontinued, the buildings on it can rarely be sold for more 
than a very small fraction of what they originally cost. 1 

FIG. 94. The colony system in use at the Shellbanks Farm of the Hampton 
Institute, Hampton, Virginia 

In a summary of advantages and disadvantages it appears that 
the intensive system is adapted to winter conditions and areas too 
restricted to admit of giving range to poultry, and that it is defective 

FIG. 95. Another view of colony poultry farming at Shellbanks. (Photographs 
from Hampton Institute) 

in that it is not suited to young and breeding stock. Continuous poul- 
try culture by intensive methods is practically impossible. The land 

1 Usually they have been allowed to fall into decay. Near Boston some years 
ago three long houses, costing $3000 and used only a short time, sold at auction 
(to be removed) for less than $100. 


becomes polluted by the excrement of the fowls and sometimes in- 
fected with disease germs, the stock deteriorates, and the poultryman 
cannot stand the stress and strain of working against natural laws. 
Combining advantages of the two systems. While general 
practice on farms, as well as on town lots and on poultry plants, 
has tended too much toward intensive conditions, the marked and 
almost immediately apparent disadvantage of such conditions for 
breeding stock and growing stock forced a measure of departure 
from them, especially in the care of the growing stock to be used 
for laying and breeding purposes. It was usual, even when the 
intensive plant was at the height of its popularity, to give breeding 

FIG. 96. Colony houses at one side of grain field at Iowa Agricultural College 
(Photograph from the college) 

stock more room than the laying stock, either by colonizing or by 
reducing the number in the compartments allotted to them (thus 
giving more room in both house and yard), and to give range to 
the young stock, although, too often, the range was so overstocked 
that the actual advantage of doing so was very slight. Sometimes, 
the birds being nominally on range, too much was assumed as 
to the advantages which they secured in being at liberty, and the 
variety of foods which, under suitable conditions, the range would 
have furnished was not provided. In the majority of cases the most 
serious obstacle to the adoption of extensive methods was the lack 
of land and the difficulty of securing adjoining or convenient land 
for the rearing of young stock. 

Leaving out of consideration the cost of equipment and labor, if 


breeding stock is given grass yards of such size that the birds do not 
keep the grass down, and the young stock to be retained can be grown 
each year on fresh ground, without overcrowding their range, young 
birds which are to be marketed may be grown, and laying stock kept, 
under intensive conditions, without marked falling off in results, for a 
term of years the duration of which will be determined by the charac- 
ter of the soil and the attention given to maintaining sanitary con- 
ditions. Whether, when cost of equipment and labor are considered, 
it pays to adopt intensive methods for laying stock and market poul- 
try is determined in each case by the circumstances in that case. 

FIG. 97. Summer arrangement of colony houses at Macdonald College 
(Photograph from the college) 

In the growing of soft roasters, one of the most profitable 
branches of poultry culture, the methods used are in some respects 
so intensive that when first published they were received by poul- 
trymen generally with incredulity. But the soft-roaster growers 
in the South Shore district (with a very few exceptions) do not 
practice continuous poultry culture. As originally developed, the 
business l was exclusively the growing, under intensive conditions, 

1 This business, as developed in this district, is a fine example of an efficient 
extemporaneous and informal organization of producers. The farmers keep the 
breeding stock, selling eggs for hatching to the growers from about midsummer 
until about midwinter. The price paid was for many years fifty cents a dozen, 
but of late years sixty cents has been the standard price. A large grower usually 
requires the eggs of a number of farm flocks, and contracts for them in advance. 
As the eggs from the farms having the best reputation for furnishing fertile 


of market poultry hatched from eggs purchased of farmers who 
kept their stock under extensive conditions. That is still the com- 
mon practice, though a few growers keep their own breeding stock. 
Besides, the business is the growing of " winter chickens," and the 
stock is off the land during the summer and early fall, thus admitting 
of regular growing of crops that remove the fertilizer from the soil. 
At Macdonald College, Quebec, the poultry department has 
adopted, with very satisfactory results, a plan of using colony 
houses in the summer and drawing them together in the winter 
(see illustrations). The houses are in fenced fields without division 

FIG. 98. Winter arrangement of colony houses at Macdonald College 
(Photograph from the college) 

fences, all houses in a field being occupied by fowls of the same 
variety. This gives the hens good range when they can be out on 
the ground, and brings the houses together for the season when, in 
that country, it would be impossible to manage poultry in widely 
separated colonies. This plan is more likely to be carried out as 

eggs are most in demand, the newcomer among the growers usually experiences 
some difficulty in getting good eggs. Many of the growers, after getting out 
what chickens they need for their own business, use their incubators to hatch 
eggs for the farmers. Thus during the greater part of the year the eggs from the 
farm flocks are used for hatching purposes. The income of the growers all comes 
in during a few months in the spring and early summer. A grower whose credit is 
good is " carried " by his grain dealer, who perhaps is carried, in turn, by his 
bank, through the season when expenses are heavy and income nothing. The 
entire product of the district is marketed by a few men who buy chickens, as 
they become ready, from the grower, paying cash for the live birds, dressing 
them, and shipping to the Boston market. 


projected in a region where winters are long and severe than where 
the shorter winters, sometimes with little snow, tempt the poultry 
keeper to leave the houses in the fields and thus save the labor 
of twice moving them. 

Temporary range. A common practice of breeders who keep 
their breeding stock under intensive conditions is to put all hens 
in one large flock at the close of the breeding season, and from that 
time until winter give them range under conditions as nearly natural 
as possible. Often the land used for this purpose is rough, over- 
grown with weeds and brush, swampy, etc., of such character 
that it is not desirable to use it for permanent yards or for any 
purpose that necessitates much traveling over it. It is a matter of 
common observation that hens thus turned out to pasture not only 
store up vitality for the following breeding season but frequently 
lay well all through the summer and fall. 

Weakest point in intensive systems. The common obstacle to 
the development of branches of poultry culture under intensive 
conditions supplied with stock from flocks kept under extensive 
conditions is the uncertainty of the source of supply. Many poultry 
keepers engaged in producing market eggs have tried to have their 
stock grown on farms, but usually with most unsatisfactory results. 


The subjects of this chapter, usually treated as supplementary to 
discussions of housing, are properly preliminary. The relations of 
poultry and the land that it occupies is a primary question in perma- 
nent poultry culture ; the question of supplied shelter is secondary. 
Many kinds of poultry require no shelter other than that which 
nature provides in conditions favorable to their existence. All 
kinds of poultry thrive as well or better in the open during the 
greater part of the natural breeding and growing seasons. To a 
much greater extent than is generally appreciated, the advantage 
of human protection to these birds is in protection from natural 
enemies rather than in protection from the elements. 

The methods and systems of poultry keeping applicable in any 
case depend (as shown in the preceding chapter) very much upon the 
amount of land available and the extent to which climatic conditions 
permit use of the land. While in order of construction fences follow 
houses, the first point to consider in planning is the amount of land 
available, or to be occupied, and how it may be used to best advantage. 
The type of house or other shelter to be used, as well as methods of 
management, will depend upon how the land is to be apportioned. 

A yard for poultry is a necessary evil. The degree of the evil 
varies inversely with the size of the poultry yard. One man, who 
appears frequently as a poultry lecturer, is accustomed to say that 
the word "yard " should be banished from the vocabulary of poultry- 
men and that they should accustom themselves to consider poultry 
as creatures which need pasture. The idea is an excellent one to 
keep in mind, though a great deal of poultry must always be kept 
in small inclosures. To economize cost of fencing, most yards for 
poultry are made even smaller than the limits of space require. 
This is false economy, due usually to the fact that the poultry 
keeper does not understand that the height of fence necessary 
depends on the area of the yard, and does not know how to take 
* 95 


advantage of the possibilities of the common wire poultry fencing. 
The desire to keep a number of varieties of the same kind of 
poultry also necessitates yards with fences so high and substantial 
that the different kinds cannot mingle, when if a single variety 
were kept on a farm, or in a community, it would not be so neces- 
sary to insure complete separation of flocks. A fence may serve 
to separate different flocks, or to keep poultry from places where 
they are not wanted, or to protect them. The amount and kind of 
fence used should depend on the needs of each case. Though 
commonly done, it is absurd to construct a fence to serve several 
purposes when there is occasion only for a fence that serves one, 
or where there is no need to fence at all. 

Necessary height of fence. The height of fence required varies 
directly according to the kind of poultry kept, and inversely accord- 
ing to the area of the yard. It is not practicable to construct a fence 
high enough to keep turkeys and some of the lighter breeds of 
fowls in small, bare yards. The same birds at liberty might rarely 
attempt to cross a fence 3 or 4 feet high. Any of the medium- 
weight 1 and heavy-weight breeds of fowls may be confined by 
a fence of wire netting 3 feet high if the inclosure is large enough 
to enable them to gratify in a measure, if not fully, their natural 
propensity to forage. For ducks and geese at any age, and for 
small chickens, very low fences will answer. Adult ducks of the 
heavier breeds will rarely go over a fence 18 inches high. Young 
ducks and goslings may be kept in for some time in inclosures 
surrounded by boards 8, 10, or 12 inches wide, set on edge and 
kept in place with small stakes or pegs driven into the ground. 
Netting 12 inches wide will answer the same purpose, but when 
netting is used, 1 8-inch widths, which will serve until the birds 
are grown, are preferred. For fences to be moved often, it is 
advisable to use netting which, when new, is a little wider than 

1 It is stated on good authority that Leghorns may be kept in large yards with 
3-foot netting if the stakes used are from 6 to 8 feet high and pointed at the top, 
offering them no inducement to fly over. The author has kept Silver Gray Dork- 
ings that could easily fly over a 6-foot fence if so inclined, in yards fenced with 
3-foot netting on low stakes and never had them break out. In Beverly, Massa- 
chusetts, at one time, a Mr. Fassett had a large flock of Leghorns on a vacant 
town lot some rods from his home, inclosed in part by an old stone wall and in 
part by a low wire fence, and the fowls gave no trouble by straying beyond bounds. 


required, because, with the tendency to sag and the further gradual 
reduction of the width through repeated stretching, the width of 
a strip of netting, after being taken down and put up again several 
times,, may be from 3 to 5 or 6 inches less than it was when new. 

Turkeys, peafowls, guineas, and pheasants can be kept in con- 
finement only by covering the yards. The pheasant is the only one 
of these birds which may be profitably grown in this way, and the 
profit in pheasants in close confinement is only obtained when they 
are of a quality that will bring high prices. For protection from 
foxes a fence should be not less than five feet high. Ostriches 
require as high and as strong a fence as cattle. 

Area of yard. The use of low fences depends on the size of the 
flock, on the character of the soil and the kind and condition of the 
vegetation on it, and (to some extent) on the kind of fowls. As a 
rule, the lighter and more active breeds are most destructive. Occa- 
sionally individuals or flocks are found which differ from most of 
their kind in this respect. A permanent yard is kept in good con- 
dition with the minimum of labor and cost when in sod. On aver- 
age soil, if grass is well established before fowls are allowed on it, 
in a yard allowing 100 square feet per bird, sod may be maintained 
in good condition over the greater part of the yard. It will be worn 
rather bare near the house, and the grass may not be kept down 
in the part of the yard farthest from the house. On poorer soil it 
may be necessary to allow 200 square feet or more per bird to main- 
tain grass. A flock of from thirty to thirty-five hens would require 
from 5000 to 10,000 square feet of yard space. . When temporary 
yards are used, they may be smaller, provided they are changed often 
enough to prevent the destruction of the grass. As long as the yard 
furnishes fairly good foraging, and there is nothing particularly at- 
tractive just beyond bounds, the poultry are not likely to go over the 
fences. They are much more likely to go under or through them if 
the wire is defective or does not follow the ground closely. When 
poultry are yarded on land occupied by a growing crop or by small 
fruits, they will rarely attempt to leave the yard. If the plot is over- 
stocked with poultry, they are more likely to damage the crop than to 
go out of bounds. The poultry that is run in crops is usually young 
stock, and the number of any kind that may be kept in any given 
space varies with their age and size ; no definite rule can be given. 


Alternating yards. When poultry must be kept continuously on 
the same land, many poultrymen make such a division of the land 
available for yards that while the birds occupy a part (usually half) of 
the allotment for each flock, grass or some other crop is grown on the 
rest, taking up the impurities in the soil. When the yards are of good 
size, the advantage of this may be noticeable, but when the yards are 
small, the disadvantage of restricting the poultry to half the space is 
probably greater than the value of the green food grown on the 
land that they are not occupying. In this, as in many other shifts to 
overcome the disadvantages of too intensive conditions, the benefit 
is not always demonstrated in a short experience. In the long run 
results count against highly intensive methods, even when tempered 
by such practices as this. Another common practice in intensive 
poultry keeping is to have the yards connecting directly with the 
house compartments small, making no effort to keep vegetation in 
them, then have a large grass yard adjoining to which any flock may 
be admitted at will, and alternate the flocks on this for brief periods. 
One of the most common ways of arranging alternating yards with 
a continuous house is to have the yards both south and north of 
the house, using the former in winter and the latter in summer. 

Fence material. Wire. The most common poultry fencing is 
the hexagonal- or octagonal-mesh woven-wire netting known every- 
where as poultry netting. A number of brands of rectangular-mesh 
wire fencing for poultry have been put on the market. These have 
the advantage of "following the ground " without bulging, and it 
is easier to do a neat job of fencing with them, but the wires, being 
galvanized before weaving, rust quickly, and few poultrymen buy 
fencing of this kind a second time. The ordinary netting, galva- 
nized after weaving, is cheaper and (so far) has proved more dur- 
able and altogether more satisfactory wherever a light fence will 
answer. For heavier fence for protection for poultry the other 
styles of wire fencing may be used, and though it has not been the 
practice to paint fences of this kind, it would undoubtedly pay to do 
so. 1 Even a well-galvanized fencing rusts very quickly sometimes, 

1 What is said here of the durability of rectangular-mesh wire fencing applies 
to brands that have been in use up to the time of writing (1911). The life of these 
varies ; some begin to rust almost immediately ; some are good for several years. 
Any fence of this style, with suitable-sized mesh, will be more generally satisfac- 
tory than the other when this fault of rusting is fully remedied. 


when vines are allowed to run on it, the zinc coating often oxidiz- 
ing much more rapidly where vines cling than along the ground 
where the grass binds it. 

Posts. Any light wooden post will answer for poultry fences. 
When the fence is for poultry only, posts may be of small diam- 
eter, especially if of durable wood. Where many posts four or 
five inches in diameter are to be set, it is better to sharpen 
one end, square the other and trim to allow placing on it a heavy 
iron ring or cap (to prevent splitting and shattering), and drive the 
posts instead of digging post holes and setting. When posts for 
high fences are driven, the best way is to load the prepared posts 
onto a wagon, leaving room forward for a man to stand to drive them, 
start the holes with a crowbar, and let the man standing on the wagon 
drive them with a heavy maul, a man on the ground making the 
holes and holding the posts in place for the other to drive. Using a 
team and two men in this way, posts may be driven very rapidly and 
will be much firmer than if set. Old iron gas or water pipe cut into 
suitable lengths is sometimes used for poultry-fence posts, and is 
especially adapted to use in rocky land where wooden posts cannot 
be driven. The pipe post has the great advantage that it need not 
be driven straight but may go in the ground at any angle the stone 
permits, and when down deep enough the part above the ground 
is easily brought to the perpendicular by bending. Wire fencing 
is attached to such posts with wire. The fence is a very satisfac- 
tory one. 

For all wire fences the posts may be about 12 feet apart, and 
when the ground at the point where a post should go contains 
stones or roots which make it difficult to dig post holes or im- 
possible to drive posts, it makes no difference if that post is shifted 
a foot or even 2 feet in either direction ; for, while it is not advis- 
able to make the regular distance between posts more than 1 2 feet, 
an occasional increase or decrease of the distance makes no notice- 
able difference in either the looks or the strength of the fence. 
When a single board is used at the base, a post which comes in 
the middle of a board may be set out of regular position if there is 
any advantage in it. If, as is usual when boards are used, the base 
is carried up two feet, it is advisable to set the posts eight feet 
apart and break joints in putting on the boards, for with light posts 


even as low a tight board fence as this gets a strong pressure 
from the wind, and to make it durable the builder must make use 
of every device that will add to its strength without materially in- 
creasing the cost. In general, it is better not to use boards at all, but 
to make the lower part of a fence of fine meshed wire, using this 
on both sides of the posts if valuable males are to be kept in ad- 
joining yards. The first cost of such a fence may be greater than 
when boards are used for the first two feet from the ground, but it 
gives better circulation of air in small or narrow yards, looks bet- 
ter, and is better adapted to construction on stony ground and for 
movable houses. For temporary yards, especially when low fences 
are used, the easiest way to prevent males fighting through the 
fence is to make parallel fences about a foot apart. In many cases 
the extra fence may be removed after a few days, when the birds 
have become familiar with each other and are less inclined to 
quarrel. When double fences are used on ostrich farms, the dis- 
tance between the fences is three or four feet. 

Openings in fences. Gates are the weak points in fences, a con- 
stant cause of trouble to the poultry keeper whose work requires that 
flocks be kept separate. It is hard to make gates that will be quickly 
and easily opened and closed by a person carrying or wheeling a 
load, and that will at the same time be secure when closed. The best 
solution of the problem is to use gates as little as possible. The 
colony system does away with all gates for poultry, the gates or bars 
between fields being adapted only to larger stock. With low fences 
(up to three feet high) that a man of medium height can easily step 
over, gates may be provided or omitted according to the amount of 
use. If a gate is needed frequently, as for passage with a wheelbarrow 
or to drive stock from one yard to another, a gate on hinges should 
be provided. If an opening in the fence would be used only at 
rare intervals, a section of a permanent fence may be made movable. 
In a temporary fence of netting on stakes, openings are easily made 
at the end of a strip of the netting, the removal of a few staples 
admitting of opening the space between two stakes. The more in- 
tensive the plant, and the longer the houses, the more troublesome 
the gate problem appears. With high permanent fences, gates to 
give passage to all yards are necessary, even though used only 
at long intervals. If there is direct passage from each interior 


compartment of a poultry house to its corresponding yard, the out- 
side gates need be used only in taking care of yards, removing and 
replacing litter, sand, etc., and with such infrequent use it is not 
necessary to make their opening and closing in any degree " auto- 
matic." None of the many (so-called) automatic hinges, springs, 
catches, bolts, etc. used on outside gates work well for both open- 
ing and closing and give security in strong winds and against dogs 
or other small animals that might try to force them. For this reason 
most poultry keepers whose stock is quite closely yarded, after a 
little experience with outside gates, abandon their use for regular 
passage in getting from flock to flock in the same building, and 
go through the house, where the use of spring hinges and weights 
to make doors self-closing and secure without fastening is practical. 

Construction of gates should correspond to construction of fences, 
the gates being made as light as is consistent with strength. For 
fences up to four feet high small gates may be of either lath or wire 
netting on a light frame of furring. For higher fences heavier 
material should be used. For openings for the passage of a cart the 
frame must be stiff and well braced. The width of a single gate 
is usually adapted to passage with a wheelbarrow. The maximum 
requirement is three feet. For the ordinary-sized garden wheelbar- 
row two feet eight inches will answer, but there is no gain in cutting 
down the width, and it is an advantage to have gates so wide that 
a man with a wheelbarrow does not have to consider his knuckles. 

Hinges for light gates, little used, may be as small as four inches, 
either a strap or a T- hinge being used. For gates much used, heavier 
hinges are preferable. A hinge too light for the use to which it is 
put not only gives out quickly but allows the gate to sag and rock. 
Hooks with staples or screw eyes make the most convenient and 
economical fastenings. They should be so adjusted that the gate 
is held snug when closed. 



Poultry architecture in general is conspicuous for endless, and 
often meaningless, variety in proportions and details. This variety 
extends to every form of structure for every purpose. From the 
fact that, provided a few simple rules are observed and other 
factors properly handled, equally good results may be secured in 

coops and houses differing in many 
details, such variety is inevitable. 
But variety is enormously increased 
because of the number of inexpe- 
rienced builders who incorporate 
into the plans' that they use un- 
tested ideas of their own. The 
features thus produced are some- 
times objectionable, sometimes 
merely superfluous, rarely of any 
value, though some such features 
have at times been widely imitated 
because of their supposed relation 

to good results secured or claimed. In the treatment of the sub- 
ject in this chapter, discussion of the various styles of structures 
required for different kinds of poultry, for different branches of 
the work, and for breeds at different stages of growth will be 
limited to the more representative styles illustrating the evolution 

1 This is the type of poultry house built by the early settlers in Rhode Island. 
The houses shown in this and the two following illustrations are supposed to have 
been built in the latter part of the seventeenth or early in the eighteenth century, 
and to have been used continuously for poultry ever since. As originally con- 
structed, the ground floors were several feet below the outside ground level, but 
in both of these houses the floors have been filled in. Access to the loft in the 
Almy house is by inside stairway. The loft in the Borden house is entered direct 
from outside, as shown in Fig. 101. It is said that before the colony system 
came into use, nearly every farm in this district had one of these A few 
remain in a good state of preservation, but most have fallen into decay. 


FIG. 99. Stone poultry house about 
200 years old on the farm of F. W. 
C. Almy, Tiverton Four Corners, 
Rhode Island l 



of ideas of poultry housing, the principles now best established, 
and the range within which variations from approved plans may 
be made without disadvantage. This mode of treatment presents 
substantially every gen- 
eral design and signifi- 
cant feature that has at 
any time within the last 
seventy years been ex- 
tensively used or seri- 
ously considered by ex- 
perienced poultrymen. 
Prime considerations 
in shelters for poultry. 
In buildine shelters for FlG> I00> Old stone poultry house ' wdl P reserved 

m k bl and still used, on the Thomas H. Borden farm, 

poultry there are three Tiverton Four Corners, Rhode Island 

prime considerations : 

the comfort of the birds, the convenience of the caretaker, and 
the cost. These items are not always in accord. A building or 
coop that is comfortable for its small feathered occupants may be 
very inconvenient for the person who takes care of them, and 
structures planned with special reference to the convenience of 

the attendant do not, 
as a rule, furnish the 
most satisfactory con- 
ditions for the poultry 
kept in them. Neither 
the comfort of the birds 
nor the convenience of 
the attendant is nec- 
essarily proportionate 
to cost of construction. 
On the contrary, elab- 
orate plans and expen- 
sive construction often 
mean more work for 

the poultryman and the least favorable conditions for the poultry. 
In planning a structure for any purpose the problem is to secure 
the best adjustment of these three things. 

FIG. 101. Rear of Fig 100, showing door for en- 
trance to loft and ventilation of lower room 


Principal requirements in comfortable shelters for poultry. 

Poultry require fresh air, sunlight, dryness, and room. Of these 
by far the most important is fresh air. The essential condition of 
dryness depends much upon free circulation of fresh air. Air and 
sunlight are nature's best disinfectants and germicides, and if a coop 
or house is not overcrowded, and the birds are in normal, healthy 
condition, a properly aired and sunned structure requires much less 
attention to cleanliness than one that is deficient in these particulars. 

Warmth is not a requisite in a house for birds whicJi are well- 
feathered, healthy, and have no tender appendages, as large combs 
and wattles. For unfeathered young birds the quarters must be 
heated artificially, or so arranged that the heat thrown off by 
the birds, supplementing the heat of their bodies, will keep the 
temperature high enough to prevent chilling, while fresh air is 
still admitted in sufficient quantities. The latter requirement is the 
theory on which all so-called warm houses have been constructed. 
The point to be noted is that the unfeathered birds must have 
warmth, while the more mature stock does not require it. All these 
points will come out more clearly as the history of modern ideas 
in construction is briefly sketched in succeeding paragraphs. 

Earliest form of shelter for poultry. An empty barrel (coop), 
still often used and recommended for a hen and brood, or for a nest 
for large birds (as the turkey and goose), was in all probability 
the first form of poultry shelter. Aside from the interesting fact 
that the adaptation of barrels to such uses gave us the name now 
used for a small shelter or inclosure, especially for poultry, the 
early and continued use of the barrel to shelter poultry has peculiar 
significance to the student of the subject because, though a make- 
shift with some features which would not be reproduced in a 
structure designed for poultry, the barrel placed on its side pre- 
sents in a primitive way what are now recognized as the first 
principles in poultry-house construction : sufficient shelter, perfect 
ventilation, and height appropriate to the size of the creatures 
which are to inhabit it. The use of the barrel is necessarily limited 
to a few purposes and a small number of individuals. 

Simplest form of shelter made for poultry. The familiar style 
of coop called the A-shaped coop, or tent coop, in which we have 
shelter provided at the minimum expense for materials and labor, 

FIG. 102. Barrel coops in use in New FIG. 103. Tent coop made of barrel 
England in 1911 staves 

FIG. 104. Modification of tent coop, FIG. 105. Like Fig. 104, with front 

with open front. Hen tethered to coop partly closed. Tethering hens with 

by string attached to leg broods was common a generation ago 

FIG. 106. Modern double-pitch roof FIG. 107. Rear of coop in Fig. 106, 
coop on farm of F. W. C. Almy showing small ventilator 




FIG. 108. Old shoe box used as 
a chicken coop 

FIG. 109. Box coop with wire front, 
used without run 

FIG. no. Box coop used with run, as shown 
in Fig. 112 

appears to have been first made of 
barrel staves. This style of coop 
has been made in all sizes, from 
the small coop, barely large enough 
for a hen to stand and turn in, to a 
building capable of accommodating 
a hundred fowls. Such large sizes 
are, however, unusual. The most 
common size of coop of this type 
for a flock of adult fowls is about 
8 feet square on the ground and 
from 6 to 8 feet high, designed to 
accommodate from twelve to fifteen 
hens. This style of coop, in small 
sizes, was probably designed quite 
as early as the barrel was used, and 
has been used ever since. It is not 
known that at any time, down to 
within a few years, those making 
such coops gave any thought to 
the point of conformity to correct 
principles. The idea in building 
them seems always to have been 
to make the cheapest thing that 
would serve the purpose. Those 
who, within the past few 
generations, have tried to 
make the best possible 
coops and houses for 
poultry have generally 
kept away from this type, 
considering it not much 
of an advance over the 
makeshift barrel coop or 
the improvised shelter of 
poles and straw or corn- 
stalks sometimes used on 

farms. They overlooked 

FIG. in. Coops with A-shaped slatted FIG. 112., 
runs. (Photograph from M. K. Boyer) with square-topped slatted runs 

FIG. 113. Coop with large folding run 

for protection from cats. Sides of i-inch, 

top of 2-inch mesh wire 

FIG. 1 14. Showing wire run in Fig. 1 13 

folded. Sides fold under top ; ends, with 

parliament hinges, fold over it 

FIG. 115. Brood of goslings in coop FIG. 116. Ducklings in coop with wire 
with stake and wire yard yard. (Photograph from E. T. Brown) 



the fact that this type of coop, or house, if of sufficient depth from 
front to rear to keep the occupants protected from such storms as 
would beat in at the front (which was often open as in the barrel 
coop), provided the three essentials, shelter, ventilation, and, in 
the common sizes, appropriate height. 

Poultry housed under the same roof as their owner. In the 
British Isles the keeping of poultry in the dwelling house appears 
to have been quite common as recently as eighty years ago and 
possibly up to a much more recent date. In " The Poultry Yard : 
a Practical View of the Best Method of Selecting, Rearing, and 
Breeding the Various Species of Domestic Fowl," by Peter Boswell, 
of Greenlaw, the author, in describing primitive methods of keep- 
ing poultry, mentions three as specially suited to the cottager. 
What he calls the " simplest form " is a lean-to "at the gable 
end of the cottage, as near as possible to the opposite side of the 
kitchen fire, at which part, and for this purpose, the wall might 
be made thinner." As "the cottager's best" he recommends "a 
part of the space next the roof, so often unoccupied and useless," 
adding, " To accomplish the object, a part of it next the kitchen- 
fire gable end should be partitioned off, floored, and fitted up with 
baulks and laying places." When fowls were thus housed, they 
had access to their loft by means of a hen ladder from an opening 
through the outer wall to the ground. The third method, called 
" the cottager's own " but recommended only to those who could 
make no other provision for poultry, was to allow the fowls to 
roost in "the upper part of the space at the door" at night and 
run in the road by day. 

The custom, among the poorest class, of keeping fowls in dwell- 
ings has a historical value, because it appears that the thriftiness 
and productiveness of many flocks so kept are largely responsible 
for the idea that, to lay in winter, fowls must be kept warm ; this 
seems to have been made a fundamental principle in expert poultry- 
house construction long before the modern period, and until a few 
years ago was regarded as essential. 

Tight houses. The theory that winter egg production depended 
upon high temperatures led naturally to the construction of tight 
houses. That having been assumed, it was necessary either to heat 
the houses artificially or to so construct them that they would 

FIG. 117. Roosting coop for weaned 

chicks, used by Lester Tompkins, 

Concord, Massachusetts. Doors and 

ventilators open 

FIG. 118. Roosting coop for weaned 

chicks. Doors closed, ventilators 

open. Board shade thrown back on 

roof of coop 

FIG. 119. Roosting coop for weaned 
chicks. Board shade resting on half- 
open doors 

FIG. 1 20. Roosting coop with doors 

closed and shade down to close 


FIG. 121. Roosting cc 
C. H. Wyckoff and Son, Aurora, 
New York 

FIG. 122. Same as Fig. 121, panels 

in lower doors. (Photographs from 

Wyckoff and Son) 


FIG. 123. Heated poultry house, in FIG. 124. Cold tight poultry house, 

central New York in Massachusetts 

FIG. 125. Tight house with straw loft, FlG. 126. House tight except front; 
in central New York has open joints between boards 

FIG. 127. Section of scratching-shed FIG. 128. Cold house ; single boards 
house with a closed roosting room with battens ; doors closed only to 
(Photograph from A. F. Hunter) keep out rain and snow 



exclude cold and retain the heat thrown off by the occupants. Arti- 
ficial heating was often tried and usually discarded after a short 
trial as of no advantage, though in a trip through central New York 
some years ago the author found many poultry houses in which 
large stoves were used and considered an advantage. In general, 

FIG. 129. Tight house with small windows ; ventilation through doors 


FIG. 130. Tight house with large windows always kept slightly open at 
the top for ventilation 

it was thought better to build houses tight and warm. To accom- 
plish this, various methods were used. The cheapest construction 
supposed to answer the purpose was made by covering the frame 
of the house with boards, and these with two thicknesses of build- 
ing paper, the outer one weatherproof. For more effective protection 


from cold, it was common to use double boards with paper between 
and weatherproof paper over the outer boards. Sometimes the out- 
side was shingled over a paper sheathing. Many houses were built 
with dead-air spaces throughout the walls, made by putting one 
layer of boards and one of paper on each side of the studding. 
Occasionally houses were lathed and plastered inside. The limit 
was probably reached by a poultryman in an eastern state who made 
his walls with three thicknesses of boards, three of paper, and two 
dead-air spaces. In harmony with such construction were the 
tight-fitting doors and windows used, both doors and windows 
often being double. 

Ventilation in tight houses. Theoretically, ventilation was fur- 
nished either by ventilators alone or by ventilators supplemented, 
during fine weather or through the warmer hours of the day, by 
careful adjustment of doors and windows ; but many houses were 
built without ventilators, on the theory that the building contained 
air enough to supply the fowls for several days, if doors and win- 
dows were closed as long as that. That the ventilators usually did 
not ventilate was shown by the fact that the houses, when closed, 
became damp and moisture condensed on the wall just as often 
when an approved method of ventilating through ventilators was 
used as when no ventilators were provided. 

In the light of recent experiences with cold houses it seems 
probable that the failures of most of the old methods of ventilation 
were due to the small sizes of ventilators used. The ineffectiveness 
of these was often aggravated by obstructions in the ventilator de- 
signed to prevent a too rapid movement of air. In warm houses 
the problem of securing sufficient ventilation while retaining the 
heat is a serious one, especially when moisture collects on interior 
walls and the litter on the floors becomes damp and the air inside 
the house moist and foul. The most satisfactory solutions of the 
problem were the straw loft and the open-front scratching-shed 
house, the first designed to overcome by absorption the dampness 
in the closed house, the other providing abundance of fresh air 
in the daytime. 

Beginning of the fresh-air movement. The scratching-shed 
house was a marked step in the direction of right principles 
of poultry-house construction, and toward the open, thoroughly 


ventilated house, which, it is now generally agreed, is, all things 
considered, the best type of poultry house. Houses of the open- 
front scratching-shed type have been used here and there since the 
middle of the last century, but it was not until after 1 890, when the 
extension of interest in poultry was increasing the number of those 
who were having trouble in warm houses, that any general interest 
was manifested in them. Then for a few years they were exploited 
as a remedy for the difficulties in warm houses, and became very 
popular. The term " open-front scratching-shed house " was 
applied particularly to the plan used and exploited by one man, 
but the idea was applied, in variously modified forms, to many other 
styles of houses. As is usual, the merits were much exaggerated. 

Experience with the open-front scratching-shed house showed 
that the fowls would remain in the open shed the greater part of 
the daytime, and that the capacity of the two compartments thus 
became only the capacity of the one compartment that the birds 
frequented. The open front of the scratching shed was intended 
to be open only during fine weather. At other times it was to be 
closed with curtains, which were at first of oiled cotton cloth on 
frames. This material was used and recommended as an econom- 
ical substitute for glass sash. The difficulty, in many places, of 
getting oiled cloth led to a very general substitution of ordinary 
cheap cloth and burlap, both of which admitted considerable air 
through the meshes. Improved conditions as a result of better air 
thus supplied brought about a very general use of such materials in 
place of glass in a part or all of the windows of closed houses. 

The idea that fowls must be kept warm was a fundamental 
principle in the management of fowls in scratching-shed houses 
and in the numerous adaptations of the plan made in houses of 
other types. The birds were to be kept warm by constant exercise 
in the litter in which their grain was fed on the floor of the scratch- 
ing shed, or scratching room (as the case might be), while at night 
they kept warm in the close roosting room, or the reduced form 
of it called the roosting closet, or roost box, built with a hinged 
front or burlap curtain to retain the heat when the fowls were on the 
roost. It was commonly observed that fowls were likely to be more 
thrifty and free from disease in these houses when the keeper neg- 
lected to take precautions to keep them warm at night. Again, when 


curtains of cotton cloth and burlap exposed to the weather were 
rotted out, it was not uncommon to delay renewing them, and no 
bad effects seemed to follow. Such things, and numerous instances 
remembered or observed of flocks of fowls doing well through cold 
winters in mere shells of houses, gradually broke down in many 
minds the notion that fowls must have warm houses, until, in the 
early years of this century, progressive poultry keepers began to 
realize that many of the despised makeshifts and flimsy structures 
of more primitive times, and of shiftless poultry keepers of their 
own times, were essentially better than their best structures designed 
according to principles upon which they had been working. 

Houses with open fronts. In these, as is to be expected, con- 
siderable variety is found, but in general a house of this type 
belongs to one of two classes : Either it is an open house of 
such proportions, and with roosts so placed, that, theoretically, the 
fowls, when roosting, are kept warm, because they are so far from 
the open front and the rate of movement of air in the house is so 
slow that a considerable part of the heat they diffuse benefits them ; 
or it is a cold house, in which the heat thrown off by the birds can 
have no appreciable effect on the temperature about them. In 
houses of the first class the air entering the front is supposed to 
make no draft to which the fowls on the roosts would be exposed ; 
in houses of the second class drafts are disregarded. Those who 
advocate and use the warm open-front house have apparently not 
fully abandoned the idea that the fowls must be kept in a tempera- 
ture sensibly higher than that outside, and must be protected from 
direct currents of air entering the house from without. Those who 
advocate and use cold houses hold that, within a limit (practically 
the degree of frost that the combs of the male birds will withstand), 
fowls may be accustomed to low temperatures ; that it is not the 
absolute degree of cold that injures them or stops egg production, 
but the variations of temperature ; and that fowls accustomed to 
the lowest temperatures and free supplies of fresh air are least 
affected by these. 

No best house. There are not marked regular variations of 
results in houses differing as to warmth or any other one feature. 
The fact that results equally good in every way have been ob- 
tained in many different types of houses under a great variety of 

FIG. 131. Single-section scratching- 
shed house, used without yard 

FIG. 132. Colony house with scratch- 
ing shed attached 

FIG. 133. Two sections of scratching-shed house at North Carolina Experiment 
Station. (Photograph from the station) 

FIG. 134. Tillinghast house with scratch- FIG. 135. Tolman and Woods houses 
ing floor in front of roosts. (Photograph at Colorado Agricultural College 
from Connecticut Agricultural College) (Photograph from the college) 



conditions shows that the important thing is not that a building 
for poultry shall be of a particular pattern, but that, whatever its 
pattern, conditions in it be regulated to meet the requirements of 
the birds for fresh air and dry quarters. This can be done in any 
type of house that is not radically wrong. But the warmer the 
birds are kept, the higher the range of temperature to which 
they are accustomed, the more necessary it is that the attendant 
give close attention to ventilating through doors and windows, and 
in practice it is too often found impossible to attend to this at the 
proper times. The cold open house may be so constructed as to 
require no manipulation whatever for ventilation and no attention 
to doors and windows except for the exclusion of rain and snow. 
Between these extremes are intermediate types requiring much or 
little regulation according to construction and arrangement. Each 
has its place. Whoever keeps a delicate breed, or one having a 
tender feature, in a cold locality must use warm houses and give 
as much attention as necessary to proper regulation of conditions 
in them. Whether it is more profitable to do this than to keep 
a hardier breed in a cheaper building, with less labor, is a point 
that each must determine for himself. 

Floor dimensions. In a structure for poultry the floor area is 
determined on the basis of the number of birds to be kept in it 
and the proportion of time that they are to be confined to it. The 
space per bird required varies inversely with the number of birds 
in the flock, small flocks requiring much more space per bird than 
large flocks, because the bird is not like a plant or a tree, or like 
horses and cattle in barns, located in one place and constantly 
occupying it, but each bird in the flock has the use of the entire 
floor, less only the space actually occupied by its mates. A flock 
of ten or twelve hens can be comfortably housed in a building 8 
feet square (which allows 5 or 6 square feet of floor space per 
fowl), if they can get outside for a good part of the time. If con- 
fined almost constantly to the house, the same flock should have 
about 50 per cent more floor space. With increasing size of flocks 
the "per hen" space may be reduced gradually until from seventy- 
five to a hundred hens have about 4 square feet each. Very small 
flocks need relatively large "per hen" areas. A single bird needs 
almost as much room as ten or twelve. 

FIG. 136. Two-pen house built by two 

men in less than half a day. This suits 

fowls as well as any kind of house 

FIG. 137. Four-pen breeding house at 
Wisconsin Agricultural College. (Photo- 
graph from the college) 

FIG. 138. Two-pen open-front house with front openings shortened to keep out 
rain and snow, giving same result as projecting roof in Fig. 137. (Photograph 

from C. M. Newton) 

FIG. 139. Cotton-front house in 
Minnesota. (Photograph from 
D. J. Lane) 

FIG. 140. Cotton-front house in 
Minnesota. (Photograph from 
D. J. Lane) 



it of poultry structures. In small structures which the 
attendant does not have to enter, or enters infrequently, the height 
of the building is usually adapted to the poultry ; in larger struc- 
tures it is adapted to the attendant. The lower houses furnish the 
best conditions for the birds, but, though that point has not been 
carefully investigated, it does not appear that the conditions in a 
house three or four feet high are so materially better than in a 
house high enough for a man to stand and work in (about six 
feet) as to make it advisable to reduce the height when that would 
mean a reduction of floor space and of the size of flocks. 

Depth of poultry structures. The depth of poultry structures 
should be proportionate to their height. In order that an interior 
may be properly sunned and ventilated, the depth, or distance from 
the front to the rear wall, must bear such proportion to the height 
of the front wall that sunlight will penetrate well back. As the 
elevation of the sun varies with the seasons, it is manifestly impos- 
sible to make a structure of fixed height and width in which the 
desired condition will be obtained at all seasons, but if the height 
of the front be about half the width of the building, the average 
conditions will be as nearly right in this respect as they can be 
made. Since it has already been determined that the height of the 
larger shelter for poultry should be near the minimum height of a 
building in which a man can work expeditiously, it follows that the 
fixing of such a standard of height, and of the relation of height 
to width, limits the width to about twelve or fourteen feet. 

In a single house, or in a two-pen house which may be lighted 
and ventilated with windows or doors on the sides in addition to 
those in the front (south), the depth may be as much greater as de- 
sired, the side openings carrying light and air back. This arrange- 
ment is not adapted to the continuous-house plan with more than 
two pens, because the side openings affect only the end compart- 
ments. It is not nearly so much used as the plan with all openings 
in the front. Its advantage is most obvious when it is desired to 
make for a larger flock a compartment that will be well lighted 
and ventilated without increasing the height or making the length 
so great that the faults of long, narrow houses will be introduced. 
Even with the use of side openings the depth is rarely increased 
more than 50 per cent over what it would be by the rule given. 


Standard-size poultry-house unit. Taking 6 feet as the most 
convenient standard for a full-height poultry house, and 12 feet as 
the most appropriate depth for a house of that height, we have two 
of the dimensions for a standard unit of size of poultry house. The 
advantages of a square floor over others (to be explained shortly) 
make it fitting to have the third dimension the same as the second 
(12 feet). This makes the standard-size single house or compart- 
ment 6 ft. x 1 2 ft. x 1 2 ft. This is a medium in form and di- 
mensions for single houses, and nearly all the common plans of 
houses may be treated as modifications of it ; on the whole, the 
most convenient unit for a continuous or compartment house. 
Diagrams of a single standard-size poultry house will be found 
on page 121. 

The use of such a standard or basic unit in the study of poultry- 
house plans should not be misunderstood. It may be, and often is, 
desirable to vary these dimensions, but such a house has capacity 
at all seasons, in all climates, for as large a flock of average adult 
fowls as the average poultry keeper handles to advantage, is con- 
venient for a person of any height, may be fully sunned and 
aired by means of openings in the front, and is adapted to single- 
compartment construction or to any number of compartments ; 
while the measurements are such that, in nearly all dimensions of 
lumber required in construction, 1 2-foot lengths cut to advantage. 
A house of these dimensions is no better than one differing some- 
what from them, but these measurements are most suitable for a 
standard, for a basis of a comparison of features in poultry houses, 
and for a base from which to work in designing poultry houses. Vari- 
ations from them should be made for a definite purpose. If they 
accomplish that purpose without introducing something objection- 
able, they give a better style of building for the purpose. If a 
change introduces objectionable features as well as advantages, 
these must be considered and the right adjustment found. These 
points will be illustrated in the descriptions and discussions of 
various features of poultry houses in following paragraphs. 

Length of poultry structures. The length (front) of a single 
poultry house (or section) should approximately equal its depth or 
width. The greatest economy of space and construction is at- 
tained in a square building. There are, however, some advantages 


in making the length a little greater than the width. The floor 
space (and so the capacity of the house) may be increased without 
changing height and width or materially affecting any interior 
condition. If the outside runs must correspond with the width of 
the house, the width and area of the run are very materially in- 
creased. An increase of 25 per cent in area over the standard 
may be made in this way, but it is not advisable to attempt to add 
still more room in one house and run by this means. Houses 
have been built, of standard width and height, with length up to or 
over one hundred feet and used for one large flock. At one time, 
also, the continuous long house, divided into many compartments 
by partitions of wire netting or slats, was a favorite. Many houses 
of that type may still be found. But in common experience it is 
found advisable to limit the length of the house, or of a com- 
partment, to very nearly its width. One reason for this is that the 
flock in an almost square room is less disturbed by the attendant 
moving about ; the birds have more room to pass him. In a long 
house the birds, if at all shy, will rush to the end of the house, 
and if the flock is large, the disturbance and crowding may be 
serious. In all very long houses that the writer has seen in use, 
the flock, though large for a single flock, has been only about 
half the total number that could be carried in the same space in 
compartments of standard size. 

The objection to the long house with many compartments and 
open partitions between is that the air draws through a long, nar- 
row, low house as through a huge flue, making the house very un- 
comfortable. It is found in practice that it is not advisable to build 
a house of this type without making every third or fourth partition 
solid, and most poultrymen using houses of this kind prefer to 
make every other partition solid. In a house of the dimensions 
recommended, it does not appear that there is any advantage in 
making every partition between pens tight ; but in long houses of 
greater height and width the draft may be so great as to make it 
advisable to do this. 

Thus it is evident that, to make the best house conditions for 
the poultry, the quarters for each flock, or family, whether de- 
tached from the quarters of other flocks or adjoining them, must 
be complete. Then the long house of many compartments appears 



not as a single house but as a series of standard houses so placed 
that the sides and roofs are continuous, and that one end of each 
house, after the first, may be dispensed with. 

The significance of the distinction is that when the continuous 
house is considered and constructed as a series of standard-size 
houses, the conditions desirable in a poultry house are obtained in 
the same way in every part of the 
series, but that when the series is re- 
garded as the unit, almost invariably 
a construction seems admissible which 
gives -different conditions in different 
divisions, and very unsatisfactory con- 
ditions in most of them. 

Styles of roof. The equal-slope 
double-pitch roof and the shed roof 
are the styles of roof most used for 
poultry houses. In single, very nearly FIG. 141. Ground plan 

FIG. 142. Front elevation 

FIG. 143. Front frame 


FIG. 144. East (end) elevation, 

FIG. 145. End frame and cross 

(Scale, i-inch to the foot) 



^ / 



bX) O 

C -M 

1 B 

c o 



square, structures the sides of a double-pitch roof may face 
either north and south or east and west. In houses with two or 
more compartments a double-pitch roof must, as a rule, face north 
and south ; in single- 
compartment houses the 
tent-roof type of con- 
struction may be used (or 
approached), with sides 
very low and the slopes 
of the roof facing east 
and west. Shed or single- 
pitch roofs on single- 
compartment houses may 
pitch in any direction desired ; on houses with two or more com- 
partments they must, as a rule, pitch either north or south, and 
preferably south, because 

the greatest 

sun in the 

FIG. i 

End frame of long house in 
Figs. 146 and 147 

FIG. 149. Partition (next to roosts) between 
pens in house in Figs. 146 and 147 

that gives 
amount of 

house with the most eco- 
nomical construction. Be- 
sides these simple styles 
of roof several others are 
occasionally used. 

Double-pitch roofs with 
unequal sides are some- 
times made to adapt the roof to other features of construction. 
Thus in some brooder houses with sunken walks in the rear, the 
roof has a long pitch to the south, 
over the pens, and a short pitch 
to the north, over the walk. In 
some of the open-front plans of 
houses, too, the front slope of the 
roof is longer than the other, and 
sometimes at a different angle. In 
what is known as the semimonitor- 
top style of construction the part 

of the house under the front slope is several feet lower than that 
under the rear slope of the roof, to allow placing windows in the 

FIG. 1 50. Partition between pen and 
alley in house in Figs. 146 and 147 

FIG. 151. Shed roof sloping to rear 
Best style of this roof 

FIG. 152. Semimonitor-top roof 
(Photograph from H. P. Nottage) 

FIG. 153. Brooder house with double-pitch roof. Long slope to front, short 
slope to rear. (Photograph from Fisher's Island Farm) 

FIG. 154. Open-front house with shed FIG. 155. Rear of Fig. 154. (Photo- 
roof sloping to front graph from L. A. Doize, New Orleans) 




perpendicular space above the 
lower roof, for the better light- 
ing and ventilation of the rear 
part of the house. Occasion 
for introducing such features 
usually indicates fault in the 
general design of the structure. 

Walls. Walls of structures 
for poultry should always be 
perpendicular. This applies to 
every form and size of house 
or coop designed for poultry. 
Whatever may be tolerated in 
a converted coop or building, 
the walls of one designed for 
poultry should be perpendicular. 
When one function of the 
glass window was to warm the 
interior of a closed building 
by the sun, houses were built 
with sloping front walls, in 
order that the windows might 
be placed at the angle that 
would make them most effec- 
tive for that purpose. This 
form of construction was un- 
satisfactory, even when it had 
supposed advantages. 

Floors. Within the same 
walls and under the same roof, 
floors should be on the same 
level. They are always made 
so in small buildings, but when 
long houses are placed on 
ground which slopes with the 
length of the house, builders 
sometimes make a building 
with roof following the slope 

FIG. 156. Breeding stock and feed house 
at Colorado Agricultural College. (Photo- 
graph from the college) 

FIG. 157. Raised walk in front of house 

in Fig. 156. (Photograph from Colorado 

Agricultural College) 

FIG. 158. House with covered raised 
walk in front 


of the land. This may not be a serious fault if there are tight 
cross partitions at short distances, 1 but if the length of the space 
between close division walls is greater than about thirty feet, there 
is likely to be a quite marked difference in temperature between 
the higher and lower ends, and drafty conditions on that account. 
The exterior of such a building is unsightly. When the ground is 
so uneven, the best way is to make a series of sections on different 
levels, each higher section one or two steps above the next lower 
one, the length of the sections to be determined by the grade. 

Eccentric features in poultry houses and coops are to be avoided. 
As a rule, the plainest, simplest style of structure that will answer 
the purpose gives best general satisfaction. Exterior features de- 
signed to give special adjustments of a coop or house to a variety 
of conditions are often objectionable because of the attention that 
they require. Elaborate interior arrangements designed to save labor 
rarely accomplish that object. Extra features, outside or inside, 
add greatly to the original outlay for equipment, and to the amount 
of investment on which interest, taxes, etc. must be earned before 
actual revenue is obtained. With capital limited, as it usually is, 
it is much better policy to cut out all unnecessary features and to 
save as much as possible for stock and for working capital. One 
of the most common mistakes in poultry keeping is that of put- 
ting so much of the available capital into buildings that the poultry- 
man is hampered for a long time for money for other expenses. 

Materials used for poultry structures. Wood is more extensively 
used than all other materials combined. Nearly all movable build- 
ings and coops are made of wood, and it is the principal material 
in most of the larger structures. When it is desired to make the 
cost of construction as low as possible, and a tight construction is 
necessary, the cheapest of lumber is used, and the inside of the 
building covered with a substantial roofing paper. If it is not 
necessary to have tight walls and roof, a grade of boards as much 
better as the builder desires may be used. With common boards 
this gives the cheapest construction. Shingles were formerly used 

1 1 have seen long nursery brooder houses for ducklings with floor following 
the slope of the land, that seemed to work well without partitions, but these were 
artificially heated, and the partitions between pens were much higher than the 
height of the ducklings. 


very extensively to cover sides as well as roofs of poultry buildings, 
but as they have steadily risen in price and gone down in quality, 
while the quality of roofing paper has greatly improved, shingles 
are now little used, except when conformity to surrounding build- 
ings requires it. 

The extensive use of wood for buildings for poultry comes about 
because it is usually the cheapest available material, and because it 
is material in which almost every poultry keeper who wishes to build 
his own buildings can work. Any material used for other buildings 
may be used : iron, stone, brick, clay, cement, are all used occa- 
sionally for poultry houses. As a rule these are more economical 
than wood only when they can be had very cheap or the poultry- 
man is expert in working in them. 

Glass is used only as necessary to give light when doors and 
curtains are closed. For many years it was the practice to use as 
much glass as possible, in order to heat the house through the 
windows when the sun shone. With the introduction of fresh-air 
types of houses the area of glass used has been reduced, and 
sometimes glass has been discarded for cotton cloth or burlap. 

Cotton cloth is extensively used in both door and window open- 
ings. Its use depends primarily on its porosity : it admits air. With 
a sufficient area of cloth to give what light is required on dull days 
with all openings closed, no glass is needed. The relative amounts 
of glass and cloth to be used must be determined according to the 
design of the house and local conditions. 

Floor materials. Wherever the soil is of suitable character (sand 
or loam, or a mixture of the two), and drainage such that it can be 
kept in good condition, an earth floor is the best for all poultry 
buildings. Where drainage is defective or the soil contains much 
clay, movable structures should have floors of wood, and permanent 
structures floors of wood or cement. 

Quality of construction. The question of durability is of less 
importance in the construction of poultry coops and buildings than 
in most other lines of construction. Movable structures of any size 
must be strong enough to stand the handling and moving to which 
they are subjected. Permanent buildings, being nearly all low, 
one-story buildings, may be of very light construction, as will be 
shown in illustrations. All that is necessary is that there shall be 



FIG. 159. Incubator house at Ontario Agricultural 
College. (Photograph from the college) 

frame enough to hold the shell firmly, that it be securely nailed, and 
that the sills shall be either so placed or protected that they will not 
rot, or put in so that when decayed they may be easily replaced. 

Some of the most prac- 
tical poultrymen put 
sills right on the earth 
and replace them when 
necessary, finding it 
cheaper in the long 
run to do this in 
buildings of light con- 
struction than to use 
heavy sills and pro- 
tect them to prevent 
the decay of the wood. 
Durability has to be considered most in connection with materials 
which are shorter-lived than wood, and with parts that receive wear. 
When roofing paper is used for covering, it is economical to use 
paper of good quality that with proper care may be expected to last 
from fifteen to twenty years. Cloth is now often preferred to glass for 
openings, because it is cheaper and admits some air ; but cloth or 
like porous material is so short-lived, when exposed to the weather, 
that in the long run it may be 
cheaper to use glass and leave 
windows partly open, as we do in 
our dwellings. If cement floors 
are used they should be substan- 
tially built ; a common mistake is 
to make them too thin and with 
an insufficient foundation. Such 

floors crack and settle and become 
uneven and very unsatisfactory, 
and the faults cannot be rem- 
edied except by taking off the old 
cement and remaking the floor. 

Warmth is not given such consideration as formerly in the con- 
struction of houses for adult and weaned birds, but in building in- 
cubator and brooder houses, or other special buildings which are to 

FIG. 160. Rear of long poultry house 
at the Ontario Agricultural College. 
Gables and ventilators break the long 
straight lines. (Photograph from the 



be heated, it is necessary to use double walls. For open-front or 
fresh-air houses all that is necessary is to make the roof, back, and 
ends wind- and rain-proof. The front need not be of tight con- 
struction ; indeed, it has not been shown that, for birds not easily 
affected by frost, there is any advantage in making the house with 
perfectly tight roof, back, and ends. On the whole, the present 
tendency is to make all kinds and sizes of structures for poultry 
of the lightest construction that will serve. 

Preservation of structures. When undressed lumber is used with- 
out covering, no paint or wash is required, nor is it necessary to 
put dressing or preservative of any kind on shingles. The wood 
will last long enough without paint to make .the unpainted building 
cheaper in the long run, for such rough buildings cost more to 
paint than others. When dressed lumber is used for exteriors, it is 
advisable to paint it with oil and lead or mineral paints. There is 
no advantage in using dressed lumber unless it is painted. Sash 
should be kept well painted. Roofing papers last very much longer 
if coated with paint or tar about once in two or three years. The 
manufacturer's instructions as to the kind of coating to use 
should be followed, for some roofings require special dressings. 
No treatment for preservation is necessary on ordinary rough in- 
teriors, or on smooth surfaces of lumber used for frame or sides, but 
if any doors or frames have closely fitted, glued joints, it is better 
to keep them painted. Whitewash has been extensively used in 
poultry houses, but as a cleanser, disinfectant, and insecticide 
rather than for preservative properties. Many poultrymen will not 
whitewash interiors of houses, claiming that, as the whitewash 
accumulates on the walls, it holds moisture in damp weather to 
an objectionable extent. 

Structures for different kinds of poultry. Poultry coops and 
houses are all designed on the same general principles and vary 
little in appearance or arrangement. The same coop will answer 
for small chicks, ducks, turkeys, or geese, but a brood of any of the 
others will so quickly outgrow a coop that would serve for chicks 
until weaned that it is advisable to provide larger coops or shelters 
for them from the outset. The same construction of individual 
brooder or brooder house will answer for young chickens and 
young ducks, except that for young chickens the partitions must 


be higher. After they are feathered, no young birds need shelter 
during the summer and fall except for protection from enemies. 
Ducks and geese will remain outside at night by choice even in 
severe winter weather, except when it is snowing or raining heavily. 
Duck growers hatching early ducklings usually confine the ducks 
indoors at night in winter and until all have laid in the morning. 1 
This is done to prevent eggs being chilled and also because it is 
believed 2 that egg production is better than when the ducks are 
allowed to follow their natural inclination and remain much out 
on snow and ice. 

Turkeys prefer to roost in the open the year round, either in 
trees or in sheltered places, as beside a barn where they are not 
fully exposed to winds from cold quarters. The roosting habit of 
peafowl is the same as that of turkeys. Guineas also remain out 
unless very severe weather drives them to cover, when they take 
refuge with hens or in any convenient place. 

Pheasants prefer to roost in low trees or shrubbery, but even 
the wild birds will come to farm poultry houses when storms 
are very severe and shut off their food supplies. When coops or 
buildings are required to confine any of these, such a building as 
is used for fowls will answer. 

NOTE. The photographs and diagrams on the preceding pages of this chapter 
were selected with reference to the accompanying text. Those which follow, 
supplementing them, show more fully the applications of principles, the details 
of construction, and the adaptability of the simplest designs and most desirable 
features to varied climates. 

1 As a rule, waterfowl lay their eggs about daybreak, not more than a few hours 
earlier or later. 

2 The author's personal experience in duck growing is not sufficient to enable 
him to say positively that allowing ducks to get their feet cold is not necessarily 
detrimental to laying. A great many poultry keepers consider that allowing hens 
to run on snow and eat snow hinders egg production, though in the case of hens 
the view is plainly a fallacy, as any one may discover who will allow hens comfort- 
ably housed in fresh-air houses with littered floors to follow their inclination about 
going on snow and ice and walking about in icy water. It will be found that even 
the feather-legged breeds with heavy foot feathering suffer no discomfort when 
they can go at will from snow or a sloppy yard to a floor of dry litter which quickly 
dries their feet. On a bare or damp floor the feathers and feet would dry slowly. 
On a bare earth floor they would become very dirty before drying. In either case 
the effects would be bad. Ducks and geese sitting (rather lying) out on snow or 
ice do not keep their feet on the ground but raise them and work them into the 
feathers at the side of the body, where they are well protected. 

FIG. 161. Primitive coop. No window; FIG. 162. Primitive coop. No window; 
small door. Used on a Rhode Island large door. (Photograph by II. de 
farm Courcy, Ireland) 

FIG. 163. Neat coop used on a Rhode FIG. 164. Coop like that in Fig. 163, with 
Island farm. lien confined wire screen over part of window 

FIG. 165. Another common type of FIG. 166. Good coop or small house 
coop in Rhode Island used on a Maine farm 


FIG. 167. Two-compartment coop for FIG. 168. Coops placed in pairs with 
one indoor brooder. (Photograph from cloth shade between. (Photograph 
J. C. Pattison) from E. T. Brown) 

FIG. 169. Small colony houses at Connecticut Agricultural College. (Photograph 

from the college) 

FIG. 170. Two-compartment house for 

two indoor brooders at the Maine 

Experiment Station 

FIG. 171. Same style as Fig. 170. Dif- 
ferent construction. (Photographs from 
the station) 



FIG. 172. Coop with window in door FIG. 173. Coop with chick door 

FIG. 174. Convertible front ; either FIG. 175. With Dutch doors. (Photo- 

open or closed 

graph from J. C. Pattison) 

FIG. 176. Upper part of front open FIG. 177. Wide spaces between boards 

(PhotographfromDepartmentof Agri- on front and one side. (Photograph 

culture, Victoria, British Columbia) from Rhode Island Agricultural College) 



FIG. 178. Piano-box house used by FIG. 179. House mostly of piano-box 

P. R. Park for small pen of breeding boards ; made in an emergency ; 

stock in summer always satisfactory 

FIG. 180. Open-front house at North FIG. 181. Open front with hood. (Pho- 
Carolina Agricultural College. (Photo- tograph from Department of Agricul- 
graph from the college) ture, Victoria, British Columbia) 

FIG. 182. English portable colony FIG. 183. Rear of Fig. 182. (Photo- 

house on wheels graphs from E. T. Brown) 


FIG. 184. Cornell house with open 

joints between clapboards made 

by placing wedges between boards 

and studs 

FIG. 185. Same as Fig. 184, half fin- 
ished. (Photographs from New York 
State Agricultural College at Cornell 

FIG. 186. Portable house at Macdonald FIG. 187. Colony house used by J. H. 
College. (Photograph from the college) Curtiss, West Norwell, Massachusetts 

FIG. 188. Small house used by author. FIG. 189. Same as Fig. 188, with wider 
Battened only on back and rear half door. Better for sunny days, not as 
of sides g od for storms 


FIG. 190. Low colony house on farm of 

F. W. C. Almy, Tiverton Four Corners, 

Rhode Island 

FIG. 191. Full-height house used by 

F. W. C. Almy ; more window space 

in front 

FIG. 192. Shed-roof colony houses at 

Cornell. (Photograph from Cornell 

Department of Poultry Husbandry) 

FIG. 193. Rear of shed-roof houses 

used by F. W. C. Almy, showing small 

ventilating opening in rear wall 

FIG. 194. Full-height colony house 
used at Macdonald College. (Photo- 
graph from the college) 

FIG. 195. Full-height colony house on 

round (pole) sills. (Photograph from 

J. C. Pattison) 


FIG. 196. House for breeding stock at Maine Agricultural College. Raised walk 
in front. (Photograph from the college) 

FIG. 197. Cotton-cloth-front house at Provincial Poultry Breeding Station, 
Edmonton, Alberta. (Photograph from the- station) 

FIG. 198. Interior of Fig. 197, showing nests and roost 

FIG. 199. A summer location 

FIG. 200. Moving a colony hou; 

FIG. 201. Winter arrangement of colony houses 


(Photographs from the college) 





12.' 4" 


FIG. 202. Front elevation of small colony house on opposite page 

FIG. 203. Cross section of house on opposite page 

3 T 





















i i 


i et 

i t= 



FIG. 204. Front elevation of farmer's large colony house (Fig. 207) 






( " B 

3 1 1 H 

i i I i ! i ! 










/ 4.' T 


/ T 









n rn 

FIG. 205. Ground plan 

FIG. 206. Cross section 


IN FIG. 207 

(Drawings for Figs. 202-207 from Michigan Agricultural College) 


FIG. 207. Farmer's colony house at Michigan Agricultural College. (Photograph 

from the college) 

FIG. 208. Front view of house, open FIG. 209. Rear of Fig. 208. Basement 
both front and rear, at West Virginia scratching shed. (Photographs from 
Experiment Station the station) 

FIG. 210. Cloth-front colony brooder houses at Provincial Poultry Breeding 
Station, Edmonton, Alberta. (Photograph from the station) 




FIG. 211. Ground plan 


FIG. 212. Front elevation 

FIG. 214. Rear elevation 


(Drawings from Rhode Island Agricultural College) 



FIG. 215. Side elevation of house on 
page 142 

FIG. 216. Cloth-curtain-front house de- 
signed by D. J. Lambert. (Photograph 
and drawings from Rhode Island Agri- 
cultural College) 

Description of house, Figs. 211-215. 

This house is designed for 100 hens 
in two flocks of 50 each. In winter 
the flocks may be increased to 60. 
The designer's object was to bring the 
roosts together at the middle of the 
house, use drop curtains in front of 
the roosts and so keep the birds warm 
at night, while the large open spaces 
in the front gave thorough ventilation 
of the .interior apart from the roosting 
closets. As the reader will note, the de- 
sign is an adaptation of the scratching- 
shed plan. In practice it was found 
that the use of curtains in front of the 
roosts was unnecessary that the con- 
ditions and results were better without 
them. This is the usual experience 
when such direct comparisons are 
made. Mr. Lambert's house stands 
far from other buildings in a rocky 
pasture, and the flocks in it are given 
range on alternate days or half days 
as convenient. In most situations it 
would be better to have two large 
yards, or divide the pasture. 

FIG. 217. Isometric projection of Fig. 216. East end and rear 


Nest Boxes 14*x 14 _ 12 deep 

FIG. 218. Ground plan of Fig. 216 

Chestnut Post 
(Round ) 

1 >-2 v ; 

U U 

FIG. 219. Isometric projection of Fig. 216. West end and front 

FIG. 220. Long house for breeding and exhibition stock at Wisconsin Agri- 
cultural College. (Photograph from the college) 

FIG. 221. House for breeding and exhibition stock at Iowa Agricultural College 
(Photograph from the college) 

FIG. 222. Three sections of front of 2oo-ft. house at Pittsfield Poultry Farm 
(Photograph from Pittsfield Farm) 



FIG. 223. Commercial laying house at Michigan Agricultural College 





FIG. 224. Ground plan of Fig. 223, showing portion of roosts, nests, 
and feed box 







1 1 




1 1 




i 1 A 

-4_ 5 .__, |T 







10 i 









x > 



' 5 








FIG. 225. Elevation of one section of front of Fig. 223 

FIG. 226. Cross section of Fig. 223. (Photograph and drawings from Michigan 
Agricultural College) 


FIG. 227. Concrete foundation and floor 

FIG. 228. The frame 

FIG. 229. The house closed in and covered 

(Photographs from Massachusetts Agricultural College) 



FIG. 230. Fattening and killing house at Macdonald College. (Photograph from 

the college) 

FIG. 231. Fattening and killing house at Maine Agricultural College. (Photo- 
graph from the college) 

TIG. 232. Brooder house at Connecticut Agricultural College. (Photograph 
from the college) 



FIG. 233. Small fattening houses at Iowa Agricultural College. Note thorough 


FIG. 234. Interior of a house in Fig. 233. (Photographs from Iowa Agricultural 




FIG. 235. Interior of brooder house with wide walk and pens on one side 

FIG. 236. Brooder house with narrow walk in middle and pens on both sides 
(Photograph from Pittsfield Farm) 


FIG. 237. Long brooder house 

FIG. 238. Cold house for weaned winter chicks 

FIG. 239. Rear of Fig. 238 






Cockerel house. Figs. 240-243 show the exterior and parts of the interior of 
the large cockerel house at Grove Hill Poultry Yards, Waltham, Massachusetts. 
The house has an alley through the middle with small pens on the ground in 
front of the walk and two rows of coops for single birds at the other side of the 
walk. It has a monitor-top roof to give light to the coops back of the walk and 
for better ventilation. The pens in front of the walk connect with the outside 
yards. A house of this kind is almost indispensable on a plant which sells many 

FIG. 240. Exterior view showing yards. (Photograph from Grove Hill Poultry 


FIG. 241. Water pan 

FIG. 242. Passage 

FIG. 243. Front of coop 

high-class breeding and exhibition fowls. The floor pens may be used in the 
breeding season for small matings. The only fault found in this house after 
years of use is that the lower coops in the rear of the walk are not sufficiently 
lighted. This could be corrected by making the passage wider (either by 
increasing the width of the house or decreasing the width of the pens), 
or by reducing the pitch of the front roof and enlarging the windows in 
the wall above it, or by slight changes in all these respects. Some cockerel 
houses have at one end or in the center a room the width of the building, to 
which the birds are taken for washing and special fitting. 



Poultry houses on hillsides. While a slight slope is an advantage in a site for 
a poultry house, too much slope is troublesome. Fig. 244 shows a poultry house 
on a steep slope, with a high front wall and the area on which the building 

FIG. 244. House on side 
hill ; yards in front 

FIG. 245. House on side 
hill ( yards in rear 

FIG. 246. Two-story house 
on side hill 

stands rilled in. The walk in this house is inside, at the rear. Fig. 245 shows 
a similar plan of leveling the floor, but with raised walk outside in front. 
Fig. 246 shows how an experienced poultryman planned his hillside house to 
make a two-story poultry house and give the fowls on both floors direct access 
to the ground outside. 


In discussing poultry houses the position of the roosts was con- 
sidered with reference to ventilation and the comfort of the birds ; 
the availability of the earth floor for dusting was mentioned, and 
a few other like points came up incidentally. With such exceptions 
the treatment of coops and buildings for poultry considered only 
the structure as a shell, a shelter from the elements for the birds 
and for the apparatus that it houses. In this chapter the various 
fixtures, apparatus, and appliances used by poultry keepers are con- 
sidered with reference to their adjustments to the birds and to their 
adaptation to methods of work. Special attention is given to those 
things which poultry keepers may construct for themselves. 1 In 
general, simple appliances of home make are as good as any and 
are much less expensive than most articles sold for the same 
purpose. Usually it is advisable to buy such elaborate appliances 
as incubators and brooders, though persons with special aptitude 
for and skill in such work often make their own in whole or in 

1 In every kind of article that poultrymen use, and for every operation that 
they have to perform, special apparatus, utensils, tools, etc. are offered for sale. 
Many of these have been patented. In many other cases designers who regard 
themselves as inventors sell copyrighted drawings and instructions for making 
apparatus, appliances, and houses, with " permits " to the purchaser to manu- 
facture for his own use. Very few patents on this class of articles hold when 
contested. Even in incubators and brooders a good feature introduced by one 
manufacturer is immediately imitated with impunity by as many other manu- 
facturers as can see advantage to themselves in using it. Copyrights on plans 
and instructions cover only their exact contents and protect the publisher only 
from the use of his work by other publishers. The " permits " given with them 
have no force. Any one into whose hands such instructions come may use the 
designs as they are, or with such modifications as he chooses. None of the de- 
vices exploited in this way, however, is of such exclusive merit that it is worth 
while to consider it in preference to others in which no one claims proprietary 
rights. Good designs for all kinds of articles of this class may be found in 
experiment-station bulletins and in the poultry and agricultural press. As a rule, 
the simplest contrivance that will answer any purpose is the most economical 
and, all things considered, the most satisfactory. 




FIG. 247. Interior of compartment 

house. (Photograph from Henry 

Van Ureser) 

part. Especially is this true of brooders. Some manufacturers 
make a specialty of supplying lamps and other brooder parts to 
those who build their own brooders. 

Roosts. Perches are required for all kinds of poultry but water- 
fowl and ostriches. Some breeders of heavy Asiatic fowls dispense 

with roosts and bed their fowls 
on the floor, but this practice is 
not to be commended. It came 
into use as a result of the devel- 
opment of a type of fowl lacking 
in vitality and in strength pro- 
portionate to its size and weight, 
and unable to fly even to a low 
roost or to balance itself on it. 
Not only is it the natural habit 
of fowls, turkeys, etc. to roost 
at a distance from the ground, 
but their conformation and feathering are such that if their 
droppings are at all soft, the feathers below the vent become very 
badly soiled by voidings made when the birds are sitting on the 
ground or on a floor, while if the birds were on a perch, the soiling 
would be slight. Waterfowl which make voidings that are nor- 
mally semifluid are so formed 
that the feathers are soiled little 
if at all by the passage of the 

The amount of roost room 
required depends on the size of 
the birds. An allowance of 7 
inches for each adult Leghorn, 

9 inches for a Plymouth Rock, 

10 inches for a Brahma or a 
Cochin, and similar allowances 

for birds corresponding to these in size gives ample room. Fowls 
of these classes sitting close on the roost do not occupy so much 
space as this. The extra allowance of room gives abundant space 
for the birds to get up and down without crowding or knocking 
one another from the roost. 

FIG. 248. Roosts and roost platform 
in long house without partitions 


Material and form. Roosts are usually made of 2 x 3 or 2 x 4 
inch scantling placed with a wide surface up. Occasionally roosts 
are used with the upper surface as narrow as two inches. 1 The 
upper surface is sometimes rounded, the idea being to give it the 
conformation of the branch of a tree. There is no discernible ad- 
vantage to the birds in this. The chief gain in smoothing the 
scantling used for roosts is that rough places in undressed lumber 
afford resting places for red mites, and planing removes these. The 
advantage of this, however, is not as great as it appears ; for if the 
mites are present, it is much easier to destroy them on the roosts 
than about their supports and in adjoining crevices. 

Supports. When no droppings boards are used, roosts are usually 
cut the exact length of the space that they occupy, and supported 
at the ends by strips screwed or nailed to the wall. Roosts without 
droppings boards are placed from 18 inches to 3 feet from the 
floor (usually from 2 to 2\ feet) and all on the same level. Except 
for the very light breeds it is not advisable to place them higher, 
even if the height of the house admits of doing so. For guineas, 
pheasants, turkeys, and peafowl kept under cover, the roosts may 
be placed higher. All of these birds prefer the open, but some 
suppose that they are better satisfied indoors when roosts are 4 
or 5 feet from the floor. In fixing the height of the roost from 
the floor the effect on the bird oi jumping or falling from the roost 
needs consideration rather than the ability of the bird to fly up to 
it. Very few birds are injured by their own efforts to fly to a roost 
too high for them. Many are injured, and all are liable to injury, 
from jumping from roosts, or falling from them when crowded off 

1 The theory of the advocates of narrow roosts is that the narrow roost fits the 
foot of the bird better than the wide one, and allows the claws to grasp the roost, 
as is natural when the bird sits on a perch. This adaptation of the perch to the 
foot is plainly more characteristic of birds of the air than of land birds. Water- 
fowl, with few exceptions, do not perch. It cannot be observed that domestic 
birds which perch prefer narrow to wide, or rounded to flat, perches, or that there 
is any disadvantage in the use of wide roosts. On the contrary, young land birds 
usually begin to roost on perches relatively wider than the widest ever used for 
adult fowls. If fowls are slow about beginning to roost, one of the common 
methods of teaching them is to put a wide board (a platform for them) a few 
inches above the floor and close to the wall, and, when they have accustomed 
themselves to sleep on this, to substitute first a roost six or eight inches wide, 
and then one of regulation width. 



by their companions. For roosts of scantling, as described above, 
up to 8 feet long, no intermediate supports are needed. For 
longer roosts supports at intervals of 5 to 8 feet, according to 
the length of the roost, must be provided. The intermediate support 
is usually a strip of furring placed under the roosts and at right 
angles to them, with one end attached to the wall back of them and 
the other to a similar strip or a wire suspended from the roof. By 
attaching the support to the wall and roof the floor space is kept 
clear. When droppings boards are used below short roosts, the 
roost may be supported independently. When long roosts have 

FIG. 249. Interior of compartment in long house of Maine Experiment Station 
(Photograph from the station) 

droppings boards under them, intermediate supports (and some- 
times all supports) may rest on the droppings boards. Various styles 
of support are used, sonjfe of wood, others of iron. As these supports 
interfere more or less with the work of removing the droppings, 
many poultry keepers prefer to attach intermediate roost supports 
to wall and roof, as when no droppings boards are used. 

Droppings boards. Droppings boards seem to have been adopted 
first for the easy collection of hen manure free from other matter, 
at a time when it could be profitably sold to tanneries. The drop- 
pings board is a platform under the roosts, of such width that all 


droppings voided while the fowls are at roost fall on it. It is some- 
times built into the house and sometimes rests on strips nailed to 
the wall at each end ; more rarely the droppings board, with roosts 
attached, rests on legs like a bench or table. The platform is 
raised far enough above the floor to let the fowls get under it. 
The space between the platform and the roosts is about eight or 
ten inches. At one time the droppings board was considered in- 
dispensable in a properly kept poultry house. It was not used by 
the farmers who developed the colony system in Rhode Island, 
and it was rarely used, as intended, by commercial poultry keepers 
whose business was on a paying basis. Unless it is kept clean by 
removal of the droppings every two or three days, conditions in 
the poultry house are likely to be much better without it. On the 
whole, only about half the droppings are kept off the floor by its 
use. When kept clean, droppings boards add enormously to the 
work of caring for poultry, 1 without contributing any measurable 

Roosting closets. As the roosts are usually placed, the space 
that they occupy may be partitioned from the rest of the room 
with very little expense. If they extend along one side, from wall 
to wall, a partition of boards brought part way down, with a drop 
curtain the rest of the way when desired, gives the same condi- 
tions as if the fowls were in a house similarly arranged and shel- 
tered. When droppings boards are used, the roosting space, if 
inclosed, gives relatively more crowded conditions. If the roosts 
extend but part of the length of a side of the house, a roosting 
closet may be made by boarding up one or both ends of the 
roosting space and making the front of boards, or boards and 
curtain. This closet arrangement may be a decided advantage for 
a few birds kept in a large room, or for tender birds, or in extreme 
cold weather. It should, however, be used with care. Except in 
extreme cold snaps, hardy fowls in a well-stocked house will usually 

1 One winter, before littering the floors of the open houses that I use, I took 
the droppings from the floors under the roosts for a number of days, to get the 
average time required to remove the droppings daily. Then the floors were littered 
with leaves, and the droppings were removed from the floor under the roosts only 
when they gave an odor, three times in the course of the winter. The actual 
time taken was three hours and a half ; the time required to remove the drop- 
pings daily for the same period was thirty-four hours. 



do as well if their roosting space is open and provided with cur- 
tains for emergency use. 

Nests. Boxes and other receptacles which serve the purpose 
are used to keep eggs safe and clean. The birds often prefer to 
lay in a corner on the floor, and some will persist in doing this 
though as attractive a nest as the keeper can design is placed 
wh.ere they had made their nest. Ducks are most indifferent about 
the matter of nests, dropping their eggs anywhere. Most hens go 
readily to the nests provided for them, and though they may have 
a choice among several nests, will take the next nest if the chosen 
nest is occupied and they cannot dislodge the occupant. In the 

other kinds of poultry the gen- 
eral habit is for each female to 
make or choose her own nest 
and keep others from it. These 
birds, as a rule, seek out secluded 
spots in which to lay, and often 
go to a distance from the home- 
stead. Even when at liberty, 
hens usually lay in the house 
that they roost in, if suitable pro- 
vision is made for them, or if 
they can find a place there that 
suits them. 

Dealing with each kind according to habit, the poultry keeper can 
consider his own convenience and requirements in making and 
placing nests for hens and, in less degree, for ducks, while with 
other birds he succeeds best if he gives the nests such protection as 
he can where the birds make them, or places boxes, barrels, or 
coops singly where they may attract a bird about to lay. The nests 
for ducks are usually made on the floor in the corners or at the 
sides of the pen by inclosing a space, or spaces, of suitable size, 
with" a low strip in front and higher divisions between the nests. 

Nest boxes for fowls are made in great variety. The minimum 
requirement for a single nest is a frame about 1 2 inches square and 
from 12 to 14 inches high, open on one side, except for a strip 
about 4 inches wide at the bottom, with or without top and bottom. 
If the nest is to be placed on the ground, it does not need a bottom 

FIG. 250. Skeleton triple nest box 


FIG. 251. Nests under roost platform, 
entered from front 

and may be used without a top. If it is to be attached to the wall 
or placed under the droppings board, it needs a bottom but may be 
used with or without a top. Such 
a nest as this, sometimes slightly 
modified in form, or enlarged for 
very large hens, is the common 
unit in series of nests for both 
laying and sitting hens, and is 
the basis of most trap nests, the 
trap adjustments being attached 
to it directly or to an extension 
of it adapted to them. Wherever 
more than one nest is needed 
in a pen, the ordinary nests are 
usually made double, triple, or 
quadruple, rarely more than four in a section, because of the 
increased difficulty of handling them. All nests should be mov- 
able. It is a serious mistake to build them into the house so 
that they are difficult to clean and treat for lice, and cannot be 
taken out and aired. 

The position of nests in the house may 
be decided according to other fixtures and 
the general plan, or according to the con- 
venience of the keeper or the inclinations 
and habits of the hens in the flock, points 
which it is sometimes necessary to consider, 
as when hens contract the vice of egg eat- 
ing. Nests for laying hens are rarely placed 
on the floor (except when hens persist in 
laying their eggs there), because in this 
position they reduce available floor space ; 
but when tiers of nests are used, they must 
begin at the floor, in order to get in the de- 
sired number of nests and have the higher 
tiers accessible. They may be attached 
to the wall and fully exposed to the light, or arranged to face the 
wall (making a partially dark nest), or placed under the droppings 
board with entrance from the rear and with a hinged cover in front, 

FIG. 252. Nests under 
roost platform, entered 
from the rear. Long sec- 
tional nest box on cas- 
ters, drawn out to collect 
the eggs 



FIG. 253. Nest with side and top removed 
(trap open) 

FIG. 254. Nest with side and top removed 
(trap closed) 

FIG. 255. View of nest from top (top removed) 


(Photographs from Maine Experiment Station) 

which simple arrange- 
ment admits of using 
the same nests (with 
front closed) as dark 
nests and (with front 
open) as light nests. 

Material. Most nest 
boxes are constructed 
of wood. Many poultry 
keepers convert second- 
hand boxes and crates 
of suitable size into 
nest boxes, or make 
them of old material 
which can be cut to the 
required dimensions. 
When such close econ- 
omy is necessary, this 
is not objectionable, 
but on the whole it 
will be found more 
satisfactory if all nests 
used for one purpose 
and for birds of the 
same kind are of the 
same pattern, --of 
new seven-eighths-inch 
boards, surfaced on 
both sides and planed 
on the edges, to give 
smooth surfaces every- 
where and close-fitting 

Trap nests are used 
to enable the poultry 
keeper to keep indi- 
vidual laying records 
and the full pedigrees 


I6 3 

of stock, without penning separately each hen under observation. 
In general their use is limited to experimental work, in which they 
are indispensable, and to special breeding operations. They cannot 
be used to advantage when attendants are not at 'hand to release 
the hens at frequent intervals during the day, nor is it practicable 
to use them for ordinary laying and breeding stock. 

FIG. 2560. Cornell trap nests, under 
roost platform l 

FIG. 256^. Cornell trap nests, attached 
to wall l 



IT "*- 

File to acute, anyk- 


There are scores of different kinds of trap nests made. In all 
the entrance is so constructed that as the hen enters she springs 
the catch which holds the door open, and it closes after her in such a 
manner that she cannot leave the nest until released by an attendant. 
Some of these nests are very simple in construction ; others are more 
complicated. Each designer claims greater 
accuracy for his nest than is found in others, 
but in their ordinary use absolute accuracy 
is not a vital point. In general, accuracy 
depends somewhat on the trap being kept 
clear of obstructions, the nesting material 
being the chief cause of trouble. 

Number of nests required. Of common 
nests one for every four to six hens is usually 

sufficient. When trap nests are used, these proportions will be satis- 
factory if the hens are removed from the nests at frequent intervals. 

Feed troughs. Troughs are used principally for wet (or moist) 
mashes, but also occasionally for dry ground grains when fed in 
limited quantities. The pattern most used is a flat-bottomed, shallow 
trough. V-shaped troughs are also common. These plain troughs 

1 Photographs from New York State Agricultural College at Cornell University. 

FIG. 257. Catch used on 
Cornell trap nest 



cost very little and are, on the whole, more satisfactory than the 
more elaborate ones designed to make it impossible for the birds to 
get their feet into the food. They&z / troughs are made with bottoms 
of |-inch or |-inch boards (surfaced on one side) and with sides 
of furring or lath, according to the size of the trough and of the 
birds which are to feed from it. For sizes up to 6 inches wide and 
about 2 feet long, |-inch stuff with edges of lath will do. For larger 
troughs it is better to use J-inch bottoms, though if they are for young 
birds, the sides may be of lath. A favorite style of flat-bottomed 
trough is made by nailing the sides to the bottom so that they pro- 
ject equally on both sides of the board, making a reversible trough. 

FIG. 258. Trap nest used at North 

Carolina Experiment Station (one 

trap set) l 

FIG. 259. Same as Fig. 258, one 

nest drawn out and opened at top 

to remove egg 1 

The advantage of this is that, by simply turning it over, the trough 
is emptied of the litter or dirt which accumulates in it between 
feedings, while a single trough must be turned over and back. 

Very small V-shaped troughs may be made of |-inch boards, but 
in general it is better to make them of J-inch stuff. For very large 
troughs, used in goose fattening, this form is usually preferred. 

For regular feeding, most poultry keepers prefer short troughs 
from 3 to 4 feet long and from 6 to 8 inches wide. A short, wide 
trough will accommodate more birds than a narrower and longer 
one with the same superficial area, and it is easier to feed in 
them (with birds crowding about) without scattering food on the 
ground. 2 A trough 12 inches wide by 1 6 or 1 8 inches long makes 

1 Photographs from North Carolina Experiment Station. 

2 This is an important point when the feed trough stands on the poultry-house 
floor or on bare or soiled ground. On clean sod no troughs are needed for moist 
mash; it may be fed on the ground. Some colony poultry farmers throw the 
mash from the wagon with a shovel as they drive from house to house. 


a very convenient size for use in small flocks. One such trough 
should be allowed for each eight to twelve hens or ducks. On some 
of the duck farms, where feeding and watering is done in the yards, 
from a track, the troughs are made 1 8 to 20 inches wide and 5 or 
6 feet long, and the feed is thrown into them from the car. When 
hopper feeding was less general, many poultrymen made troughs 
with high ends and a board on edge between, to prevent birds 
getting into the trough. For very small chicks some poultry 
keepers use shallow pans of galvanized iron, about 3 inches wide 
and 8 inches long, with sides |-inch high. 

Feed hoppers. Many styles of hoppers have been designed, to 
hold a store of food and feed it down into an attached box as fast 
as the birds consume it. They are made in 
all sizes, from the small hopper, with a 
capacity of a few quarts, to the large hopper, 
with a capacity of one hundred pounds or 
more. They are used for both whole and 
cracked grains, and for dry ground feeds. 
Small hoppers are also used for shell, char- 
coal, etc. The movement of the grain from 
the hopper to the feeding box beneath is 
designed to be automatic, the weight of the 
material in the hopper carrying it down 
through the opening at the bottom as food 
is removed from the box. Most hoppers 
work well except for ground grains, which always clog more or 
less. To overcome this a patent feeder holds all food in the 
food box, with a coarse wire screen so suspended that it rests 
on the ground grain, holding it piled high in the box, opening 
a larger surface to the birds, and making the food accessible 
as long as any remains. The other point of trouble in hopper 
feeders is the waste, through the birds pulling stuff out of the 
box. To overcome this an inturned edge, or lip, is put on the 
feeding box. ' 

The prevention of waste from hopper feeders is not, however, 
simply a question of preventing the birds from scattering the con- 
tents of the box. The primary question is the quality of the food. 
There is nothing gained by retaining in the box the stuff that the 

FIG. 260. Feed hopper in 
colony house 


birds reject. Hopper feeders are usually made of wood, but many 
of the smaller sizes manufactured for sale are of galvanized iron. 
Drinking vessels. There are two kinds of drinking vessels: open 
vessels (as pails, pots, pans, and troughs) and closed vessels, of the 
fountain type. The open vessels are more generally used. If 
placed where they get the sun and air, six-quart wooden pails are 
very satisfactory for adult fowls. For indoor use when the sun 
shines on the drinking vessel for only a short time each day, it is 
better to use vessels of stoneware, or iron vessels with porcelain 
lining. The latter cost most, but in ordinary use are almost in- 
destructible, will last a lifetime, and are the easiest of all to keep 
clean. For young chickens and ducklings 
with hens, any shallow dish or pan will 
answer. Earthen flowerpot saucers are 
inexpensive and, if not exposed to frost 
when wet, will last many seasons. For 
ducks and the larger kinds of poultry, 
full-sized wooden pails or small tubs or 
troughs are used. For ducks and geese 
that are given water only for drinking pur- 
poses, the drinking vessel should be too 

heavy to be easily upset, or should be se- 
FIG. 261. Water pails on 

shelves cured. On the whole, V-shaped troughs 

are as satisfactory as any for waterfowl. 

Drinking fountains are made on the same principle as hopper 
feeders, and are mostly commercial products. The primitive form 
is the homemade fountain, made of a tall tin can inverted in a 
shallow pan or dish of slightly greater circumference, the can hav- 
ing a few small holes at such distance from the open end as is 
required to make the water stand at the desired height in the other 
vessel. The commercial drinking fountains are made of earthen- 
ware, stoneware, galvanized iron, or glass. The advantage of using 
drinking vessels of the fountain type depends very much on cir- 
cumstances. In general, open vessels are preferred; because they 
are more quickly filled and easier to keep clean. The extra labor 
of taking care of a large number of drinking fountains will usually 
more than offset what is gained in reducing the number of water- 
ings. The best way for the individual poultry keeper to decide 


points of this kind is to try out a special appliance on a small 
scale and in comparison with the best arrangement that he can 
make without it. 

Dusting boxes. Dust baths are required when poultry are con- 
fined on floors of wood or cement. They may be built into one 
corner, in which case all that is necessary to make the dusting place 

FIG. 262. Fully equipped feed, store, and conditioning house. (Photograph 
from Gardner and Dunning) 

is two boards for the two outer sides, the walls forming the other 
sides and the floor the bottom. This is probably the best arrange- 
ment in small pens. In large pens it may be more satisfactory to 
use movable boxes (about thirty inches square and twelve inches 
high) with bottoms, and place two or more in each pen. 

Common tools. In the work of caring for poultry houses and 
yards the ordinary garden and stable tools (rakes, hoes, shovels, 
spades, forks, brooms, wheelbarrows, pails, scoops, etc.) all have 


their places, the kind and size used being adapted to the work to 
be done. In the mixing and cooking of feed, also, appliances 
used in work with other kinds of stock are adapted to work with 
poultry. There are, however, a number of appliances and tools de- 
signed especially for the poultryman. Some of these are necessary 
in all lines of work, some in special lines, and some are useful only 
in certain conditions. It is not necessary to mention and describe 
them all. Following is a list of the more important appliances, with 
brief statements concerning the use of each. These and other 
appliances are catalogued by general poultry-supply houses, or 
advertised in poultry and agricultural papers by the manufacturers. 

FIG. 263. Iron jacket and bricked-up FIG. 264. Feed cooker and mixing 
kettles in cookhouse on farm of trough in cookroom at C. H.Wyckoff's 
F. W. C. Almy plant ' 

Cooking apparatus. The best cooker for poultry feed is a bricked- 
up set-kettle. The bricks hold the heat much longer than the iron 
fire box under the ordinary feed cooker. The latter is less expen- 
sive. Either may be used for scalding poultry or for heating water 
for any purpose. Something of this kind is necessary on a poultry 
plant that carries more than a few dozen birds. 

Food mixers. On a large plant where moist mashes are fed 
(as on duck plants and goose-fattening farms) mixing by hand 
becomes heavy work. Bakers' dough mixers have been satisfac- 
torily used by some duck growers. One large duck farm uses a con- 
crete mixer. Ordinarily a revolving barrel or box turned by hand 
will answer for mixing dry mill stuffs, and wet ground grains may 
be mixed with a shovel in kettles or in troughs. Grains to be fed 
in hoppers may be mixed in revolving mixers. For feeding by hand, 



grains may be sufficiently mixed by scooping alternately from the 
different bins to the pail in which the food is carried. 

Bone cutters. The only machine that will reduce fresh bone to 
form suitable for poultry food is a bone cutter, which shaves the 
bone ; green bone cannot be ground. The old-style bone mill for dry 
bones is now rarely seen. In general, it does not pay to use a bone 
cutter unless it can be run by power. When power can be secured, 
the most common difficulty is to get regular and sufficient supplies 
of bone at reasonable prices, for the supply is usually very limited. 

FIG. 265. Homemade feed mixer, 
used by Henry D. Smith 

FIG. 266. Same as Fig. 265. Hopper 
hung up after filling barrel 

Hay cutters. Every poultryman who has room to grow his 
own clover or alfalfa, or can purchase either (properly cured) 
from a farmer, should consider a hay cutter a necessity. Most 
poultry keepers pay too much for this class of food. One or the 
other of the grasses mentioned can be grown anywhere. Enough 
for several thousand fowls can be cut by hand power in a 
short time. 

Root cutters. Root cutters are not often needed. It is usually 
much better to feed roots whole or simply split, letting the poultry 
pick them to pieces and eat them deliberately. 

FIG. 267. Dough cart used by Sisson 

Brothers, Little Compton, Rhode 


FIG. 268. Dough cart, with coop for 

moving poultry. P. H. Wilbour, Little 

Compton, Rhode Island 

FIG. 269. Two-wheeled, covered 
dough cart 

FIG. 270. Handy water cart, 
P. R. Park 

FIG. 271. Feeding and watering cart, 

used by the Department of Poultry 

Husbandry at Cornell University 

FIG. 272. Same as Fig. 271, with box 

sides on. (Photograph from New 

York State Agricultural College) 




Egg testers. For testing the fertility of eggs, incubator manu- 
facturers furnish a metal chimney, to be used on the incubator lamp. 
While this will serve the purpose, it is not as good as a homemade 
tester made from a high, narrow box (a six-pound wooden starch 
box will answer the purpose). In one side and at such a height 
that it will come directly opposite the flame of the lamp set inside, 
cut a hole a little smaller than the oval circumference of an egg ; 
a hole a little larger in circumference than the top of the lamp 
chimney should be cut in the top of the box. The box tester may 
also be used with an incandescent electric light, but sunlight is the 
best light for testing eggs. Some poultrymen darken the incuba- 
tor cellar and test eggs through a suitable aperture in a shutter 
on a. window facing the sun. 

Nest eggs. Artificial eggs are supposed to be of use in induc- 
ing hens to lay in the nests containing them, but their value for this 
purpose is doubtful. Hens sometimes lay where the nest eggs are; 
quite as often they do not. The china or other nest egg is really 
serviceable in nests of sitters moved to new quarters, before it 
seems safe to give them good eggs. 

Transportation on the poultry plant. On a poultry plant of the 
extensive type a horse and cart can usually be used for distributing 
food and water, collecting eggs, and moving coops from place to 
place. The wheelbarrow is indispensable on all plants. On some 
duck plants a great deal of labor is saved by using tracks running 
above the fences, and in some of the long houses for fowls over- 
head tracks are arranged to carry a hanging car from pen to pen. 
The advantage of this inside track is not as apparent as that of the 
outside track used on the duck farms. On a large plant a great deal 
of time and labor is saved by having food storage bins so distrib- 
uted about the plant that the grain does not have to be carried long 
distances at each feeding. 



Nutritive requirements. Poultry need the food constituents used 
by all creatures, but not always in the forms and proportions in 
which they are used by other domestic creatures. The composi- 
tion of the flesh of poultry does not differ greatly from that of 
domestic animals used as food. In general it contains more protein 
and less fat. 1 The rapid growth of poultry, however, demands a 
larger proportion of concentrated food and relatively larger quan- 
tities of food than other domestic creatures, and in birds which 
lay nearly all the year round the heavy demand for concentrated 
food is continuous. For both growth and egg production mineral 
matter also is required in much larger proportion than in the diet 
of mammals. 

Nutritive organs. The digestive organs of poultry present the 
same general characteristics as those of mammals, varied in the 
different kinds in accordance with their feeding habits and diet. 
Briefly, they consist of a mouth, furnished with horny lips (beak, 
or bill) ; a gullet ; an esophagus, having an enlargement (the crop) 
in which the food taken in at the mouth is retained for some time 
and subjected to action of the secretions of the crop ; a stomach 
(the proventriculus), where the food received from the crop is 
mixed with the gastric juice ; a gizzard, a muscular organ with 
corrugated inner surfaces of tough, horny skin between which the 
food is reduced before passing into the intestines ; large and small 
intestines ; liver ; gall bladder ; pancreas ; two caeca ; rectum ; 
cloaca ; and anus, or vent. In a study of poultry culture special 
interest attaches to the mouth, crop, and gizzard, to the func- 
tions of these organs, and to their relations to feeding theories 
and practice. 

1 " Poultry as Food," FaivnerS Bulletin No. 182, United States Department of 
Agriculture, also Bulletin No. 270, Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station. 



In general, poultry use for food larger proportions of expensive 
food products than other domesticated creatures, but as, under suit- 
able conditions, they collect much of this class of foods for them- 
selves, the comparative cost of feeding them is not as much greater 
as the fact suggests. 

NOTE. Some analogies between organs of nutrition of birds and creatures 
below and above them in the scale of evolution are also of peculiar interest to 
the student of poultry culture. The most conspicuous resemblances between 
domestic birds and animals in respect to nutrition are commonly noted and 
their importance is often exaggerated. Thus : Poultry, being omnivorous, eat 
everything eaten by cattle, which are herbivorous and granivorous; there- 
fore it has been assumed by some students of the science of feeding that the 
nutritive rations worked out for cows will apply to poultry. 1 There is a 
double fallacy in this view. Cattle are principally herbivorous, but use small 
quantities of grain to advantage. Fowls are principally granivorous, but eat 
considerable quantities of vegetables. Were there no other difference in the 
diets of fowls and cattle, the fact that cattle eat chiefly of bulky foods and 
lightly of concentrated foods, while fowls subsist more largely (and may sub- 
sist for long periods exclusively) on concentrated grain foods, would suggest a 
necessary difference in feeding standards. But fowls are also carnivorous and 
insectivorous, using large quantities of highly nutritious animal foods. Such 
differences suggest that the same feeding standards will not serve for both 
classes of creatures. 

Cattle and horses have strong jaws and powerful molar teeth for the mas- 
tication of the forage and grain that they consume. Hence, by analogy, it 
was assumed that birds eating grain must have powerful organs to grind and 
reduce it to form available for nutrition. Man and all domestic animals must 
reduce food to such consistency and form that it will pass through a gullet 
very small in comparison with the mouth and the size of the creature. Again, 
by analogy, it was assumed that birds, so much smaller than man and domes- 
tic animals, and having no teeth with which to reduce their food before swal- 
lowing, must have food especially selected or prepared to meet the supposed 
requirements of creatures of their size not provided with mechanical organs 
of nutrition such as larger and stronger mammals possessed. Such analogies 
have had a marked influence on the theory and practice of poultry feeding. 
The fundamental error was failure to assign to birds their proper place in 
the animal kingdom, and to consider the resemblances between their nutritive 
organs and processes and those of creatures lower down in the scale. 

1 Singular and absurd as it seems, it is a fact that the earliest investigators of 
the science of feeding poultry, instead of analyzing numbers of good rations for 
poultry and ascertaining their average and using that as the standard, simply 
took over the standards accepted for dairy cows and tried to apply them in 
poultry feeding. 


Birds are most closely akin to reptiles, which differ strikingly from mam- 
mals in the structure and use of the organs for the prehension of food and 
also in the provision made for its final mastication. A cow may choke on an 
apple; a snake by extension of the mouth and dilation of the gullet will 
swallow animals which, even after constriction in its folds, have a circumfer- 
ence greater than the normal circumference of its body. In this respect birds 
occupy an intermediate position. A bird can usually swallow anything that it 
can get into its mouth. In the young of aerial birds the mouth is conspic- 
uously large. A small chicken will swallow an insect apparently much too large 
for it ; fowls often kill mice and frequently swallow young mice alive ; l a goose 
will swallow a large apple core. No one who closely observes the feeding 
habits of poultry which have access to foods of various kinds, in pieces much 
larger than they can conveniently swallow, can fail to notice that, even when 
the bird has to pick the article to pieces to eat it, the last piece swallowed is 
always much larger than is commonly considered an appropriate size for mor- 
sels of its food. It has been usual to attribute this to gluttony and to the fear 
of having a choice morsel snatched away, but it is simply the natural habit 
of the bird to swallow the largest morsel adapted to its structure. 

The crop of the bird corresponds to the rumen, or paunch, in ruminant 
quadrupeds, but in the provision for reducing food, after subjection to the 
action of the secretions of the crop and proventriculus, a bird resembles the 
orders below it in the scale of development. The food of the bird is masti- 
cated, or triturated, in the gizzard. Reasoning from analogies observed between 
birds and ruminants, and from the fact that small particles of stone, glass, 
earthenware, etc. were often found in the gizzards of fowls in course of prep- 
aration for the table, it was long ago assumed that the gizzard itself was inad- 
equate for its function, and that the bird swallowed these substances because 
they were required for the mastication of its food. One of the common pre- 
cepts of poultry culture is that poultry must be constantly supplied with 
" fresh, sharp grit " or it cannot properly digest its food, and the practice of 
supplying the birds with the teeth that nature neglected to provide is quite 

In respect to the gizzard, as in capacity for swallowing, birds are more like 
some reptiles and insects than like the familiar animals with which their nutri- 
tive organs are usually compared. The crocodile has an organ resembling a 
gizzard, and some naturalists 2 have said that, like birds, crocodiles swallowed 
stones to aid " the gastric mill." Some insects have gizzards supplied with 
tooth-like processes. From these several analogies the reasonable presumption 
is that the bird does not require grit to grind its natural food, and that, while 
occasional eating of indigestible articles of this kind might be called an error in 
selecting food, the regular consumption of such stuffs would indicate unnatural 
feeding and an abnormal condition of the digestive tract as a result. This 
point will be further considered in a subsequent paragraph. 

1 I have seen a very large Brahma hen swallow alive a mouse more than 
half grown. 2 James Orton, Comparative Zoology. 



Differences in beaks and crops. In the gallinaceous birds the 
upper mandible forms a stout, sharp hook, and this beak is a most 
efficient tool for the prehension of food and also to supplement 
the claws in uncovering food concealed on or near the surface of 
the ground. In waterfowl the bill is much larger : in the duck it 
is long, broad and flat, shovel-like, and especially adapted to secur- 
ing food in water ; the bill of the goose is less flattened, stronger, 
and the edges of the upper mandible are more serrated. The 
serrations of the mandibles in waterfowl seem to serve a double 
purpose : they give a firmer hold on the coarse vegetation grow- 
ing in water and in moist places, of which these birds eat great 
quantities ; they also serve as strainers to retain in the mouth 
small forms of animal life taken in with water, which is forced 
out at the sides. The crops of gallinaceous birds are large and 
will hold considerable quantities of food ; the crops of ducks and 
geese are small. 

Natural foods and feeding habits of poultry. In a study of the 
subject of feeding, the natural foods and feeding habits of poultry 
must be considered. It is to these natural diets that the organs and 
habits of the birds were adjusted in the wild state, and though they 
readily adapt themselves to different diets, there are some features 
of the natural life and diet which must be preserved in every arti- 
ficial method intended for continuous use. The form in which food 
is taken is of more importance in feeding practice than the proper 
balancing of nutrients in the ration; for while a badly balanced ra- 
tion produces malnutrition, its bad effects develop slowly and are 
usually promptly remedied by a proper diet, but a ration that is 
unsuitable in form (however well balanced in its nutrient elements) 
if eaten by the bird reluctantly and in insufficient quantities may 
result in malnutrition, or, if eaten readily, may cause disorders of 
the digestive organs which develop quickly and are not easily rem- 
edied. The form in which food is taken also has an important 
influence on exercise and the general physical habits which affect 

Gallinaceous domestic birds 1 are conspicuously granivorous 
when compared with carnivorous and herbivorous creatures, but 
under natural conditions, with opportunity to eat as much as they 

1 Fowls, turkeys, guineas, peafowls, and pheasants. 


want of the different kinds of food, it is probable 1 that they derive 
about as much of their nourishment from animal and green foods as 
from grains and seeds. The form in which they take foods differs 
in nearly every case from the form in which it is supplied to them 
by a keeper. The grains and seeds that they get in the natural 
state are mostly small, and a large proportion of them are at some 
stage of germination. Very small grains and seeds are taken only 
in the absence of larger ones, but these small seeds, as of grass 
and many weeds, are eaten greedily, blade (or leaf), root, and all, 
after germination. There are few, if any, of our common plants 
and weeds that poultry will not eat in the first tender stage, though 
there are many for which they have little appetite when they have 
passed beyond that stage. They always prefer tender vegetation, 
and it has often been noted that their marked preference for cer- 
tain plants was for the condition, not for the kind. The animal 
food secured under natural conditions consists principally of small 
creatures (insects, worms, etc.) eaten whole, bony and fibrous 
parts being swallowed with the rest. Under these conditions 
all poultry undoubtedly consume very much larger quantities of 
indigestible material than the poultry keeper usually gives them, 
but much of this is in such form that it mechanically assists the 
processes of digestion, giving greater bulk to the ration and prevent- 
ing the more nutritious parts from massing, or lumping, so that 
the organs and secretions do not properly operate on them. The 
digestive organs of these birds are adjusted to a mixed diet con- 
taining a considerable proportion of indigestible material. Normally 
the food, even on good range, is secured only by effort which gives 
the bird all the exercise needed to keep it in good condition. The 
activities of the birds are manifested in walking and running after 

1 Such a point is much more difficult to determine definitely than at first ap- 
pears. The birds may eat at one time or season larger quantities of one kind of 
food, at another time or season larger quantities of another kind of food, accord- 
ing to abundance of supply, temperature, etc. Habit and familiarity with articles 
also have a great deal to do with their selection of food, and so observations for 
short periods are often of little value. But whoever closely observes the feeding 
of a few of these birds on a range where food of all kinds is abundant and they 
can select just what they want, cannot fail to be impressed by the attention that 
they give to vegetation and insects, and by the difference in the consumption of 
grain between a flock on good range and a yarded flock supplied liberally with 
the vegetable and animal foods most used for poultry in confinement. 


insects (sometimes with the assistance of the wings) quite as much 
as in scratching. 

The common waterfowls (ducks and geese) are less alike in diet 
than the strictly land birds. Both frequent shallow water and the 
margins of streams, and feed largely on the small and minute 
forms of animal life found in such waters ; but ducks are more 
disposed to supplement this with the insects which abound in such 
localities, while geese are more attracted to the vegetation in the 
water and on the lowlands near by. Neither ducks nor geese care 
much for whole grains, and efforts to feed them whole grains in 
considerable quantities generally give very unsatisfactory results, 
because their nutritive organs are not adapted to dealing with food 
elements in that form. Their bills, though excellent for securing 
small food in water, are not so well formed to picking up small 
grains, and, their natural diet being principally of soft foods which 
need not remain long in the crop, that organ is small and not 
adapted to a diet of whole or broken grains. Ducks in domestica- 
tion are often grown on a diet which consists principally of ground 
grains, and may be fed meat much more freely than any of the 
other kinds of poultry. Geese thrive best when given good grass 
pasture as the basis of their ration, with ground grain to supple- 
ment it. Both ducks and geese are gross feeders, eating large 
quantities of bulky foods. They take exercise mostly in the water. 
The goose moves in a most leisurely manner on land. The duck's 
movements are more rapid for short distances (as when darting 
after insects), but if driven out of a slow walk, ducks which cannot 
fly break down and flounder about helplessly. Neither ducks nor 
geese seem to require much exercise to keep them in condition. 

The swan feeds mostly from the surface of the water, living 
largely on coarse grasses and weeds. It is said to be very destruc- 
tive to fish spawn and young fish. 

The ostrich, in diet and feeding habits, has more resemblance to 
the goose than to any other kind of poultry. It is a grazing bird 
and may be kept on pasture without other foods. 

NOTE. It should be observed that in the natural foods of all kinds of poultry 
there is a very large proportion either of fibrous matter or of water serving as a 
diluent for the principal nutrient elements ; also, that in a natural diet, with its 
great variety of foods of all kinds, not only are the principal food elements 


obtained in a greater variety of forms, but the variety of minor food elements is 
much greater, including small quantities of many elements not secured when the 
birds eat only such food as man may profitably provide for them. The function 
of these minor elements in nutrition is little understood. The fact that our 
domestic animals and birds thrive better on a ration which gives them a variety 
of those elements or essences characteristic of different organisms that are about 
equal in the value of their principal nutrients, suggests that they have functions 
of great importance in nutrition, although, in the present state of knowledge of 
the subject, they cannot be included in food calculations based on the chemical 
constituents of food articles. Again, the fact that certain foods are evidently 
better foods for certain animals than other foods almost identical in the pro- 
portions of their principal nutrients indicates that the peculiar value of these 
foods is either in their form or in the form in which the principal nutrients 
appear in them, or in some of the minor elements. 

Common poultry foods. In every place those foods (used by man 
for himself or his larger domestic animals) which can be fed to 
poultry most economically are the poultry foods in general use. In 
any section the grain that is most abundant and cheapest is likely 
to be the principal food of the poultry of that section. Throughout 
the greater part of the United States corn is the principal grain fed 
to poultry, but in wheat-growing sections wheat may be cheaper. In 
Japan rice is the principal grain fed to poultry. By-products of all 
kinds of food preparations form an increasingly important part of 
the common poultry foods. In a sense the greater part of all food 
used by poultry is waste product or by-product. The wheat, oats, 
barley, or other grain fed to poultry is usually of inferior grade, 
damaged, or, if of choice quality, only temporarily available because 
of an oversupply bringing the price to a point where it can be 
profitably fed to stock. Even of corn, which is produced in such 
enormous quantities, a large proportion of what is sold for stock 
feeding is of poor quality. As a result of modern methods of pre- 
paring and handling foodstuffs for man, by-products of mills and 
packing houses, in great number and quantity, are placed on the 
market for stock feeding. The profitable use of these requires some 
knowledge of the composition and feeding properties and values 
of foods. 

Composition of foods. Nutritive elements in foods are proteids, 
carbohydrates, fats, and ash (mineral matter). All foodstuffs also 
contain fiber and water, the proportions of these varying widely 


according to the kind and condition of the article. Fiber is largely 
indigestible. Water is the necessary solvent for food solids. It is 
present in sufficient quantities for this purpose only in succulent 
vegetables and fruits and in fresh meats. As its function is mechan- 
ical, it is not considered in discussing and calculating nutritive 
values, but in feeding practice the quantity of water in the food 
may have an important bearing on results. Fiber also seems to 
have a mechanical function. 

Protein is the common name for the nitrogenous substances 
which supply material for the structure of the body. The white 
(albumin) of an egg is protein, supplying the materials for a fully 
developed chick. 

Carbohydrates are principally starches and sugars supplying 
fuel (for heat and energy) and fat (reserve fuel for the same 

Fats (as food) are considered highly concentrated carbohydrates. 

Minerals in animal nutrition are chiefly calcium and phosphate 
compounds. In poultry feeding, lime in available form is of special 

The common grains contain these food elements in snch propor- 
tions that, so far as actual nutrients are concerned, any of them 
will make a good grain ration for poultry sufficiently supplied with 
green food and animal food, and so able to balance their own 
ration, as they do in the natural state. The differences in the 
composition of the whole grains are in some cases considerable, 
yet not so great that they cannot be equalized by variation in the 
quantities of other foods and by the power of organisms to utilize 
an excess of one kind of nutrients to supply a deficiency of an- 
other, or to conserve available supplies of another. Thus an excess 
of protein is converted into fat and stored in the body, and an 
excess of carbohydrates or fat, though not convertible into protein, 
is also stored up as fat in the body, furnishing a reserve of heat and 
energy. The by-products of articles manufactured for human beings 
often have nutrient elements in quite different proportions from 
the articles of which they are made. Usually the by-product is less 
valuable as a food, but in some cases it contains a larger propor- 
tion of some valuable element (see descriptions of foodstuffs in 
the next chapter). 


Nutrient ratio. The relative proportions of principal elements 
in food articles are mathematically expressed in the form of a ratio, 
commonly called the nutritive ratio, but more correctly described 
as the " nutrient ratio." To obtain this the percentage of protein 
in the article is taken as the first term of the ratio ; the percentage 
of carbohydrates and fats (the fats being reduced to terms of car- 
bohydrates) 1 is taken as the second term, and the ratio is reduced 
to its simplest form, in which I represents the value of the protein. 
If the difference in the proportions of the two classes of elements, 
as thus expressed numerically, is small, the nutritive ration is said 
to have a narrow ratio ; if the difference is great, the ration is said 
to have a wide ratio. Rations having a narrow ratio are called 
narrow rations, and those having a wide ratio, wide rations ; but 
these terms are usually employed to describe the relations of ra- 
tions compared, not to a standard, but to each other. The chem- 
ical values of the nutrients in a food are also expressed in figures 
which represent the total heat-producing value of all elements com- 
bined; this is called \hefuel vahte or potential energy of the article. 

The chemical composition of any food article may be accurately 
determined by the chemist, and the nutrient ratio and fuel value 
established and expressed. As different samples vary in compo- 
sition, standards for general use are made by taking averages of 
numbers of analyses of each kind of food. The composition of 
ordinary lots of whole foods (as grain, hay, milk, and meat of any 
kind) will closely approximate these standards. The variations from 
them will not, as a rule, be great enough to materially affect results 
in feeding, and those who have occasion to calculate percentages 
may assume that a whole-food article which appears to be of 
average quality is of average, or standard, chemical composition. 
Nature makes no variations in foods so great as to disturb the 
nutritive processes of organisms using them. 

In by-products nutritive values are less stable and uniform. 
Nearly all states now require such products to be sold under a 
guaranty of their most valuable nutrients. While this affords the 
purchaser protection from those who would unscrupulously pass 

1 This is done by multiplying the value of the fats by 2.25 or by 2.27. Author- 
ities are not all agreed in regard to the fraction, and it makes no material differ- 
ence, for all values in feeding are approximate and relative. 


off an inferior article, it does not always inform him even approxi- 
mately of the nutritive value of the article. Many, especially of the 
highly concentrated by-products, run very unevenly in composition, 
and the manufacturers, to be on the safe side, place their guaranty 
below the minimum (see " Beef scrap," Chapter XII). The bulletins 
of the various state experiment stations giving analyses of foods of 
this class offered for sale in the state afford the most trustworthy 
information in regard to their composition. 

Neither nutrient ratio nor potential energy gives a generally 
applicable standard for accurately measuring nutritive values. Both, 
however, are serviceable in comparisons of food values, and com- 
parison of either the nutrient ratios or the fuel values of two similar 
articles often shows their relative feeding values. Judged by prac- 
tical observation, a comparison which considers both may be even 
more accurate. It might be so invariably if feeding value depended 
solely on the quantities and proportions of the principal elements ; 
but, as the description of foods in the following chapter will show, 
there is sometimes a very great difference between the feeding 
value of two articles as indicated by their chemical constitution and 
as demonstrated in practice. 

Nutrients vary in digestibility. Creatures differ in digestive 
power, and' the same creature digests a certain kind of food more 
completely at one time than at another. Investigators of the 
science of feeding have determined, by careful experiment, "diges- 
tion coefficients " for most of the common food articles for the 
larger animals, and in a few instances for poultry ; but, in the case 
of poultry especially, the observations are too few and the results 
too irregular to warrant the use of these coefficients in a study of 
foods and feeding. 

Expression of nutritive values. Nutritive standards are com- 
monly expressed in terms of nutrient ratio and fuel value. Although, 
as has been said, neither of these measures is accurate, they give 
the best basis that we have for the comparison of food values in 
numerical terms. They are found for each kind or class of animals, 
and for each purpose for which the animals are fed, by calculating 
the chemical values of rations the actual feeding value of which has 
been demonstrated in practice. What was said of the comparison 
of values of different food articles on the basis of nutrient ratio 


and fuel value applies as well to comparisons of rations contain- 
ing a variety of foods, both with other rations and with single ar- 
ticles of food. For this purpose any article or ration may be taken 
as the standard with which others are compared ; but it is most 
fitting that the ration or article selected be, if a ration, a complete, 
well-balanced ration, and if an article, that food article which in 
itself is nearest to a complete ration. For a comparative study of 
foods and food values it is advisable to use- a single article rather 
than a ration compounded of a variety of articles differing widely 
in physical as well as in chemical properties. Such a single stand- 
ard presents to the eye and mind of the feeder a tangible and 
simple standard with which to compare all other articles and com- 
binations of articles used as food. The use of a standard of this 
sort has the added advantage that it compels consideration of the 
physical as well as of the chemical properties of foods. 

The food article which best meets the requirements for a single 
standard food for poultry is wheat. 


The preceding chapter included a brief explanation of the general 
properties of foods and their relations to the nutrition of poultry. 
It was shown that the food value of an article was not determined 
solely by the quantities and proportions of principal nutrients that 
it contained, but was affected by physical properties and minor 
nutrients. In this chapter articles used for poultry food will be 
described as to chemical contents, physical properties, and feeding 
values as observed in practice. Wheat, the single food article 
which is the nearest to a complete food for poultry, is taken as a 
standard of comparison. The statement of the chemical composi- 
tion and values of wheat is repeated for direct comparison with 
similar data for each group of foods described, and differences and 
resemblances which affect feeding practice are mentioned. Only 
vyhole articles and ordinary by-products are described. For de- 
scriptions of special brands and mixtures, and of proprietary 
articles, the reader is referred to the manufacturers and to the 
bulletins of his state experiment station. In making so full a list 
of articles which may be used as food for poultry, it was not pos- 
sible to secure all statements of chemical analysis from the same 
source, and the figures given will not always correspond with 
others to which the reader may have access. Such differences are 
immaterial and may be disregarded. In the study of food values 
mathematically expressed the student should always bear in mind 
that the figures represent averages of samples of several or many 

Wheat. Wheat contains the principal nutrients in about the pro- 
portions that analyses of ordinary good complete rations of mixed 
grains show. Physically, as compared with other grains commonly 
used for poultry, a grain of wheat is medium to small in size, and 
is smooth, having no hull. Varieties and grades of wheat vary in 


1 84 

















in i oz. 

Wheat (plump) .... 
Wheat (shrunken or 


ii 6 


A Q 


2 Q 


T -> r 


6? i 

i c 8 


Low-grade flour .... 
Wheat middlings l . . . 
Wheat bran 


12. 1 
I I Q 


O Q 





l -O 
I 5 .6 

1 1; A. 

'-O- 1 


C-5 Q 

j- u 


1 . ^.0 




9 8 

Mixed feed 1 

i i.y 

Q 7 

j- u 
7 6 

1 J-4 
I 2 O 


i c 8 

V u 

Stale bread 



j- u 

6. 9 




1 o- 


color, plumpness, and hardness. The harder and darker-colored 
wheats are richest in protein and most valuable as poultry foods. 
Whole wheat may be fed exclusively to poultry, without apparent 
detriment, for a longer period than any other grain. It is preferred 
by most kinds of poultry to all other grains except corn. 

Wheat screenings. When free from foreign matter, wheat 
screenings and shrunken wheat are practically the same, and do 
not differ noticeably from plump wheat in feeding value. Screen- 
ings are often heavily adulterated with weed seeds, grain hulls, etc., 
and are very generally sold at too high a price, because many 
purchasers will take the lowest-priced article of its kind without 
considering quality. It is quite usual to find wheat screenings 
selling readily at only 10 or 12 per cent below the price of good 
wheat, when the value (because of adulterants) may be 15 to 20 
per cent, or even more, less than that of the good wheat. 

Low-grade flour. Wheat flour not suitable for bread making is 
a most valuable ingredient in mashes, both adding to the nutrients 
and improving the consistency of mashes made from coarse by- 
products. Low-grade flour is also called red-dog flour. 

Middlings. Coarse flour and fine bran, in varying proportions in 
different lots and in the products of different mills, is called mid- 
dlings. In many sections middlings, as a separate article, is rarely 
found on the market. 

1 The term " shorts " in some sections means middlings and in others a mix- 
ture of bran and middlings. It is sometimes applied indiscriminately to any and 
all kinds of wheat offals. 


Bran. Bran is the coarser part of ground wheat. Pure bran is 
much lower in feeding value than is indicated by its analysis. 
Much of the product now sold as bran contains a large propor- 
tion of middlings and is also sold under the names " mixed feed " 
and " shorts." 

Stale bread. The greater part of the stale bread used for poul- 
try food is white bread, but often the refuse bread from city 
bakeries, hotels, and restaurants contains considerable propor- 
tions of other kinds of bread and of cake. All such articles 
are valuable foods for poultry and, at the usual prices, are 
cheap foods. 

NOTE. A comparison of the nutrient ratios and fuel values of these wheat 
products with those of whole wheat indicates for them a feeding value closely 
approximating that of wheat, but stale bread is the only one of them that in 
practice gives the results that the comparison suggests. Though usually fed 
only as a part of the ration (in a mash), it has been used for long periods, with 
excellent results, as the only grain food for fowls and chicks on range. The 
nutrient ratio is nearly the same as that of wheat. The low fuel value indi- 
cated is due to the high per cent of water. Low-grade flour, differing little 
from wheat in the proportions and values of principal nutrients, can, because 
of its form, be fed only in combination with coarser and less glutinous materials. 
Middlings and bran both compare very closely with wheat, and good rations 
for continuous use may be compounded, having the nutrient proportions and 
fuel values of these by-products ; yet neither of them alone, nor the two in 
combination, will go very far in feeding. The percentage of fiber is high in 
both, and especially high in bran. Their chief service in poultry feeding is to 
dilute and temper the corn meal, which is the basis of most mashes and which 
supplies in cheaper form some of the nutrients in the wheat flour of which 
these are by-products. 

Corn. In nearly all parts of the United States field corn is the 
principal grain used for poultry food. In percentages of nutrients 
it does not differ greatly from wheat, except in fats. The grains of 
corn are from four to six times as large as grains of wheat. As a 
rule, when poultry have access to a variety of whole grains, they 
eat the corn first. When cracked corn is mixed with other grains, 
this preference is less marked, which suggests that the larger size 
of the grain may be the attraction. Yellow and white corn show in 
analysis no difference in principal nutrients. In feeding practice 
no difference is noted, except that yellow corn gives its color to 
the fat of birds fed on it and to the yolks of their eggs. Many 

















in i oz. 



i 8 


i'6 ? 

/ J -V 

J . U.J 

Field corn . .... 




IO 4. 

7O 7 

c o 

' 7 Q 

1 06 

Sweet corn 




ii 6 


8 i 

I J 7 C 


/ J 

Pop corn 




I 1.2 



: 7-3 


Corn meal (unbolted) . . 




8. 7 



: 9-5 


Corn meal (bolted) . . . 




8. 9 



: 9-5 


Corn meal (granulated) . 









Corn and cob meal . . . 




8. 5 





Hominy meal 








1 08 

Gluten meal 


i 6 

O 7 

"'Q A 

C^ A 


I -7 } 



poultry keepers consider hard (flint) corn a better food than soft 
(dent) corn, but in common practice no difference is observed. 
Sweet corn and pop corn are practically the same in feeding value 
as field corn but are not generally available for poultry feeding. 
Because whole corn may be eaten so rapidly that a full meal is 
quickly secured without exercise, the practice of feeding cracked 
corn has become general. Cracked corn, when fresh, does not 
differ in composition from the whole corn of which it was made, 
but after being cracked it may deteriorate rapidly, especially in 
warm weather. It is peculiarly subject to heating and to molds, 
and when stale or moldy is a most unsafe food, particularly for 
young stock. It is usually cracked in two sizes, coarse, for general 
use, and fine, for small chicks. Corn is the most easily digested of 
the common grains. Because of this and its heating properties, the 
free use of corn for fowls in close confinement and not plentifully 
supplied with green food is usually followed, in hot weather, by 
digestive disorders. With due attention to exercise, and with abun- 
dant supplies of green food and the less concentrated animal foods 
(insects, milk), good results may be obtained from a diet in which 
corn is the only grain fed. In extreme cold weather it may be fed 
more freely. 

Corn meal. Corn meal is the foundation of most mashes for 
poultry. Coarse, unbolted meal is to be preferred, and if mashes 
are cooked or given time to swell after mixing, the coarser corn chop 


will be still better. The corn meals on the market vary greatly in 
quality ; a great deal of what is offered for stock feeding is made 
of inferior or damaged corn. Corn meal is very liable to heat in 
warm weather. The heating may be stopped by spreading the meal 
two or three inches thick in a bin or on a clean floor, but if the 
meal when cold smells musty or sour, it should not be fed to poultry. 

Corn bran and corn middlings. Corn bran has considerably less 
food value than corn meal.. Corn middlings is richer than meal in 
both protein and fat, and probably has a slightly greater feeding 

Corn and cob meal. Unless a large part of the coarse, fibrous 
material of the cob is sifted out, corn and cob meal does not make 
a satisfactory poultry food. As a rule, poultrymen prefer to dilute 
corn-meal mixtures with wheat bran or finely cut hay. 

Hominy meal. The soft part of the corn kernel remaining after 
the hard part has been separated in the manufacture of hominy 
grits is ground into hominy meal. It has about the same analysis 
as corn meal, and in localities where it can be obtained is often 
substituted for it, as the more economical of the two foods. 

Gluten meal and gluten feed. Gluten meal is one of the prod- 
ucts separated from corn in the manufacture of glucose ; gluten 
feed is a mixture of this with other by-products of the same process. 
Both are very rich in protein and fat. They are not extensively 
used for poultry, chiefly, perhaps, because meat meals and scraps 
have been found so satisfactory in supplementing the supplies of 
those elements in the ordinary poultry foods. 

Whole oats. When of good quality, whole oats are about equal 
to wheat in feeding value. The fibrous hull makes them less 
acceptable to poultry than a smooth grain, and when a choice is 
offered, they neglect the oats. When kept on an oat diet, how- 
ever, they eat oats freely, provided they are of good quality. In oat- 
growing sections, oats are often the only grain fed. Clipped and 
hulled oats are sometimes used, but do not appear to be more at- 
tractive to poultry than whole oats of good quality. Birds familiar 
with other grains show a lack of eagerness for hulled oats and va- 
rious milled forms of oats ; this indicates that the fibrous hull is 
not the only feature objectionable to them. It is probable that the 
objectionable property is the fat, which is as abundant as in corn 





. % 





. % 




in i oz. 














3- 2 

1 1. 8 


I 5 .0 





2 -3 





: 5 .8 

: 5-7 
: 3-7 
: 5-7 


1 08 


Oat bran 

Oat feed . . 

Oat middlings 

Rolled oats 

and has a less pleasing flavor. The generally poor quality of oats 
offered for stock food tends to diminish their use as food for poultry. 

Oatmeal. Oatmeal was long considered the best of foods for 
chicks. This idea of its quality was based on tradition rather than 
on results. It was common, years ago, for poultry growers to buy 
the pinhead oatmeal prepared for human food, paying for it three or 
four times the price of corn products, which, with a little modi- 
fication, could be made equal in nutrient values (if that were neces- 
sary) and which are much preferred by the poultry. Of late years 
the use of oat products for young chickens is less common, and 
rolled oats is generally used instead of oatmeal. At the usual 
prices they are not economical foods. 

Oat bran and oat feed. As Table III shows, oat bran and 
oat feed contain very large percentages of fiber. They are rarely 
offered for sale as straight products, but appear in combination 
with ingredients which supplement their deficiencies. 

Oat middlings. Oat middlings is a high-quality product, but is 
not extensively manufactured and is not much used for poultry. 

Sprouted oats. Oats sprouted until the blades are from four to 
six inches long are much relished by poultry, but it is usually more 
economical to provide a green food which does not require so 
much care in preparation. 

Barley. By analysis barley appears almost identical with wheat 
in feeding value. Its nutritive ratio is slightly narrower and by 
so much nearer to that of average good rations. As usually sold, 
with the hull on, it is eaten by poultry less readily than wheat, 

















in i oz. 










n. 9 

2 3 .2 
I 9 . 9 


5 1 -? 








: 5-5 
: 2 . 3 
: 3-3 





Barley screenings . . . 
Barley meal . ... 

Malt sprouts 

Brewer's grains (dry) . . 

but in barley of good grade the proportion of fiber is small com- 
pared, with the fiber content of good oats, and fowls habituated to 
the use of whole barley, and not also supplied with wheat, will eat 
it quite as freely as they would wheat. In practical feeding, wheat 
and barley show no difference in results. There is an increasing use 
of whole barley as poultry food in barley-growing sections. Its use 
in other sections is less general, because of irregularity of supply. 
It is usually sold at a figure enough lower than the price of wheat 
of corresponding quality to make it the more economical food. 

Barley screenings. Barley screenings consist of the less-developed 
grains and often contain broken hulls, particles of straw, etc. If 
clean they may be equal to good barley in feeding value. 

Barley meal. Barley meal is almost unknown to American 
poultry keepers, very little of this grain being milled. 

Malt sprouts. The sprouts removed from barley sprouted in 
the manufacture of beer are used principally for cattle feed but 
occasionally for poultry. 

Dried brewer's grains. The residue from barley in the manu- 
facture of beer consists of a small part of the starch with most of 
the gluten, the germ, and the hull and is called brewer's grain. 
Its use as poultry food has not been extensive enough to determine 
its value. At an appropriate price it should be a valuable food. 

Rye. From the poultry feeder's standpoint rye is an anomaly 
among grains. As analyzed it closely resembles wheat and is not 
markedly unlike it in appearance ; the grains are smooth and a 
little smaller in size. When fed to poultry accustomed to other 
grains, rye is eaten by them reluctantly and in small quantities. 



On the other hand, the fact that poultry having access to ground 
recently seeded with rye, though liberally fed on other grains, eat 
it as readily as any grain, suggests that the changes incident to 
germination make it more palatable to them. The extent to which 
rye is used as food for both human beings and live stock in some 














in i oz. 















1 02 
9 8 

Rye bran 

foreign countries indicates that it does not differ greatly from the 
other grains in actual feeding value, and that, if necessary, it might 
be more extensively used here. With abundance of other foods 
there is no occasion to force poultry to a rye diet. 
















in i oz. 

Wheat .... 




77 O 

77 Q 


1-6 ? 

I O2 

Corn and oat chop (equal 

parts) . . . . . . 


*y t 

9 .6 

7I.9 1 



1 06 

Corn (8 parts) and bran 

(5 parts) feed .... 




7 I.2l 




" Provender" (corn, 45 Ibs. ; 

oats, 125 Ibs.; bran, 100 








I 'v'l 


Corn, rye, and oats (equal 



I O 

10 6 

T\ 7 J 

-\ 4 

i : 7.4 

1 06 

Mixed mill feeds. Under this head are described ground mix- 
tures of the common grains and of their by-products. Such mix- 
tures are usually made for a special demand, or to work off grains, 
like rye and low-grade oats, that are not readily salable in their 
natural form. They are, as a rule, more uniform in quality and 

1 Including fiber. 



more satisfactory than mixtures of by-products, because all nutri- 
ents are present in natural proportions. The chief fault in mix- 
tures containing oats is the presence of the loose, broken hulls, 
which, apparently, irritate the digestive organs much more than 
when swallowed on the whole oat. On this account these mixtures 
are particularly injurious to young poultry, and when fed to them 
should be sifted before wetting. They are also liable to heating in 
warm weather. 

















in i oz. 

Wheat . 




77. Q 

71 Q 

2 I 

1-6 ? 










Buckwheat groats . . . 





8 3 .I 




Buckwheat bran .... 









Buckwheat middlings . . 







I \2.l 


Buckwheat. As a food for poultry, buckwheat appears much 
oftener in grain mixtures than alone. Its analysis compares quite 
closely with that of wheat, except as to fiber and ash. It is a large 
seed, angular, with hard hull, and poultry are quite indifferent to 
it in the whole form. 

Buckwheat groats, buckwheat bran, and buckwheat middlings. 
Buckwheat groats is hulled or crushed buckwheat. Buckwheat bran 
is sometimes used in place of wheat bran and is very satisfactory. 
Buckwheat middlings is also used occasionally in mashes. None 
of the buckwheat products, however, are extensively used for poul- 
try in this country. In Europe their use is more common, as the 
preference there for white fat in poultry makes corn an objection- 
able food. 

Rice. Rice and rice products are little used as poultry food 
except in countries where rice is the staple food for human beings. 
In this country the quantities available at prices which warrant 
feeding to poultry are too limited to admit of their general use. 
Broken rice is often used in chick-feed mixtures. Occasionally a 
poultryman secures a lot of broken or slightly damaged rice, or of 



a rice by-product, at a price proportionate to its feeding value and 
to the price of staple grains fed to poultry. 














in i oz. 

















i : IO.Q 


Rice bran 




I I 

4Q Q 


I * C Q 

Q ^ 

Rice hulls 


-5 C.7 





i : 1 1.2 


Rice flour ... 


6 -\ 



c;8 o 

7 7 

i :6 ; 


Sorghum seed. Sorghum seed is more like corn than wheat in 
its constituents, but is smaller than wheat, round and smooth. It 
is not generally available for poultry food but, when procurable at 
a price not higher than that of wheat, makes a desirable food. Sor- 
ghum-seed meal may be used, in whole or in part, as a substitute 
for corn meal. 















in i oz. 


IO f 

i 8 

/ 8 



2 I 

1-6 1 

1 02 

Sorghum seed .... 




9 .I 




I O2 

Sorghum-seed meal . . 









Broom-corn seed . . . 




9 .6 





Broom-corn-seed meal . 





6 4 .2 




Broom-corn seed. Broom-corn seed is nearer wheat in nutrient 
ratio than sorghum seed and lower in fuel value. In appearance it 
greatly resembles sorghum seed. Poultry may not eat it freely with 
the hull on, but will eat the cleaned seed quite as readily as wheat, 
and thrive just as well on it. Broom-corn-seed meal may be used 
to some extent as a substitute for corn meal and middlings. 

Flaxseed and cotton seed. Whole flaxseed and cotton seed can 
hardly be considered as poultry foods, but their analyses are given 



for purposes of comparison. If available, either could be used in 
small quantities, but it would not be advisable to compel poultry to 
eat more of seeds so rich in vegetable fats and protein than they 
would take freely when fed a liberal general ration. 










in i oz. 

Wheat .... 



1 1 .Q 

*7 1 Q 

2 I 

1-6 ? 


II 8 

7 Q 

3 A 


19 6 

Ground linseed .... 







: 4 .8 

T 37 

Linseed meal (old process) 









Linseed meal (new process) 
Cotton seed 



2^ 6 




IQ 4. 


21 Q 

IQ ^ 

:i. 4 

9 1 


Cottonseed meal . . . 





2 3 .6 

I3: 1 

:i. 3 


Cottonseed hulls ... 









Cottonseed feed .... 







: 2 . 3 


Ground linseed. Ground flaxseed from which the oil has not 
been extracted is called ground linseed. 

Linseed meal. Linseed meal is ground flaxseed from which the 
oil has been extracted. Old-process meal is made from seed from 
which as much as possible of the oil has been extracted by pressure. 
New-process meal is made from the residue of seed from which 
a large percentage of the oil has been removed by a chemical 
process. Old-process linseed meal is often called simply oil meal. 
New-process linseed meal often goes by the trade name " Cleve- 
land flax meal." 

Cottonseed meal, cottonseed feed, and cottonseed hulls. Cotton- 
seed meal is the only one of the three by-products of the manufac- 
ture of cottonseed oil in which a poultry feeder would usually be 
interested. Cottonseed feed might be used (at the right price) in 
a ration which did not otherwise contain much fiber and fat. The 
meals of this class are sometimes used in poultry feeding, but are 
not popular as poultry foods, because it is found generally more 
satisfactory to use animal foods to add to the protein and fat in 
grain and vegetable rations. Cottonseed hulls are of little value 
for poultry. 



Peas and beans. In limited quantities peas and small beans are 
readily eaten by poultry. They will regularly eat a little, but object 
to large proportions of them in their rations. Pea meal is sometimes 
used in mashes, but more by amateurs and experimenters trying to 
secure maximum results than by others. All these products are 
















in i oz. 




/ 8 

ii .0 

7/ Q 

2 I 

l'6 ? 

I O2 








: 2.4 







c r 7 

I 4 

:-> 8 

Q" 7 

Pea meal 

10. c 

14 4 

2 6 

2O 2 

c j i 

I ^ 

12 6 


White field beans . . . 







: 3 


Navy beans 



5 7 



I 4 

: 2.c 


Soy beans 


4 .8 







Soy-bean meal .... 







: 2 .6 

I2 3 

unquestionably good poultry foods when properly combined with 
others in rations, but supplies are irregular and prices usually too 
high as compared with staple grain products to warrant using 
them extensively. 

Miscellaneous seeds. Of the seeds given in Table XII only Kafir 
corn and millet are of any considerable importance to American 
poultry feeders. In regions where it is grown, Kafir corn has been 
quite extensively used for poultry, and is reputed equal to wheat, 
with which it corresponds quite closely in analysis. Chinese and 
Egyptian corn and durra are akin to Kafir corn. These seeds are 
rarely available for poultry feeding. Millet is useful in a combina- 
tion of fine grains for small chicks, or as a light feed for fowls, but 
can be profitably used only when below wheat in price, and then only 
to a limited extent. In feeding millets of different varieties it will be 
observed that poultry prefer those having the largest seeds. Sun- 
flower seed has a traditional reputation as an excellent conditioner, 
adding luster to the plumage. Its value for this purpose appears 
greatest when fed to fowls whose ration is deficient in fat, as is 
the case with many flocks whose keepers are prejudiced against 
the use of corn and meat. Birds having a ration sufficient in fat 


J 95 

do not usually show any eagerness for sunflower seed offered to 
them in the hull, or shell (the seed might be classed as a nut), 
though they eat the meat greedily when it is removed from the hull. 














in i oz. 









I O2 

Chicken corn 1 .... 




1 0.0 





Chinese corn 




9 .6 












: 9 -6 


Kafir corn 







:8. 3 


Egyptian corn .... 









Millet -. . * 







: 5-3 


Hempseed ^ . : 







: 9-7 


Rapeseed .....'. 







:6. 3 


Sunflower seed .... 





2 3-9 

2 3 .6 

:6. 3 


Green foods. The common things available for green food are 
quite similar in composition and very low in feeding value when 















in i oz. 

Wheat ' -f . . 

70 f 








Grass (clippings) . . 
Clover, red . ... 


70 8 


8 i 





I 3 .8 






Alfilaria 2 












:i. 9 
: 3-5 

1 7 





QO ^ 


J C 

I 4- 










O. S 







Beet tops 
Rape .... 









8.6 3 


: 5-4 




Onion tops 








1 Sorghiim vulgare. 

2 Akin to alfalfa. It grows wild in Southern California. 

3 Including fat. 


compared with wheat. The feeding value of all these things is 
not so much in the principal nutrients as in their succulence and 
the elements peculiar to the green state. In the grasses these 
may be preserved in part by careful curing, but the vegetables are 
useful only when green. 

Cabbage. Because it is easily kept green, cabbage is the most 
valuable of all foods of this class for poultry. Cabbage, sown thickly 
in rows and fed from these sowings without waiting for heads, has 
been found one of the most economical of green foods. 

Lettuce. Poultry often, if not usually, prefer fresh lettuce to cab- 
bage, but it has not the keeping properties of cabbage. 

Spinach and beet tops. Unless very young and tender, the leaves 
of spinach and beets are eaten freely only when the poultry are 
short of favorite green foods. 

Rape. Rape may be pastured or cut continuously, and is much 
in favor with poultry keepers for sowing in yards, or for feeding 
to birds in close confinement. 

Onion tops. The tops of onions are eaten in small or moderate 
quantities by all kinds of poultry. They are usually kept from birds 
about to be used for table purposes, and from those producing eggs 
for the table, because they impart their flavor to flesh and eggs. 

Green-corn leaves and stalks, wheat, barley, oats, rye, etc. Any 
succulent fodder may be used for green food if cut up so that the 
birds can eat it. Such things are usually fed where green crops 
in considerable quantities must be grown especially for poultry 
and must be available before crops like lettuce and early cabbage 
are harvested, and the unmarketable surplus can be used for 
poultry food. 

Ensilage. All kinds of ensilage can be fed to poultry, but it is 
usually found more convenient to use cabbage and succulent roots. 

Clovers and alfalfa. The only hays that specially interest the 
poultry feeder are the clovers and alfalfa. It is desirable that both 
be cut while immature and very succulent, and that the green color 
be preserved as much as possible in the curing. These hays, as 
cured for other stock, usually contain a large proportion of coarse 
stems. When they are fed to cattle on the place, it is a common 
practice to reserve for the poultry the leaves shaken off in handling 
the hay. 



I 97 













in i oz. 

Wheat . . V .- .. .. .- 




1 1 .Q 

71 O 

^ 7 

//> ? 

Red clover .... 

I C.-J 



\*> -> 

-*8 i 

5 -1 



\Vhite clover 


24.. I 

8 T 

I C 7 

-7Q T 


2 Q 

1 o-/ 


Alfalfa ...'.... 










7 1 

Clover meal and alfalfa meal. Hay meals are in no way better 
than finely cut hay, while it is much easier to adulterate them or 
to mix with the leaves a large proportion of the woody stems. 















in i oz. 

IVkeat -^^- . . . :" 








I O2 

Potatoes (white) .* . . . : 
Potatoes (sweet), v V . 
Beets (mangel-wurzel) 
Beets (red) . . .._.'. ,.^ 
Beets (sugar) 




86. t: 










T 7-3 



:8. 3 
117. 1 

: 5-5 
: c.c 



Beet pulp (fresh) . . ". 
Beet pulp (silage) . . . 
Beet molasses . ~- . 


2 C 7 









S8.2 1 





Turnips .-' 

QO. ^ 








Rutabaga . . * . 
Carrots . . . . . 









: 7 .8 

1 1 

Parsnips . ' . 









Onions . . . . ... 

70. e 











Potatoes. Though the most important roots in the diet of human 
beings, potatoes should be fed to poultry sparingly. In a cooked 
mash they are eaten readily, but if the proportion of potatoes in the 
mash goes above 1 5 to 20 per cent, and the birds are full fed of 
mash, it seems to cloy them and spoil the appetite for the next 
meal. Raw potatoes are sometimes fed to poultry, but are not eaten 
readily unless the birds are very hungry for succulent food. 

1 Sugar. 



Mangel-wurzel and sugar beets. The most valuable roots for 
poultry are the mangel-wurzel and sugar beets. They are eaten 
freely and have no bad effects. They cannot take the place of 
green food fully but, being sweet and very succulent, are as good 
a substitute for it as can be obtained. They are easily kept and 
require no preparation before feeding. 

Beet by-products. The by-products of beets are now attracting 
attention as food for poultry, but have not been used enough to 
show how they can be fed to best advantage. 

Turnips. Turnips are fed both raw and in cooked mashes. 
When fresh and sweet they appear to be as good raw as mangels, 
but they do not keep so well and, as soon as they begin to decay, 
are likely to give a disagreeable flavor to the eggs of fowls eating 
them. The feeding of turnips not perfectly sound is probably re- 
sponsible for the general belief that any turnip will taint eggs. 

Carrots and parsnips. Carrots and parsnips are fed mostly in 
cooked mashes, small, unsalable roots being used. 

Onions. In any form onions are much relished by poultry. Only 
very small quantities of raw onions can be given without flavoring 
eggs and flesh. Cooked onions may be fed more freely, as cook- 
ing drives off the volatile oil which gives the onion its peculiar 













in i 02. 


10 % 


i 8 

Tf Q 

"71 O 

2 I 

i'6 ? 




O 2 

r j.y 




;7 . e 


Tomatoes .... 


O 7 

O 7 

I O 


O tj 


Cucumbers . . . . .' . 
Pumpkin (flesh) . . . . . 
Pumpkin (seeds and 
stringy part) . . ....: . 
Pie melons 



Q4 ^ 










6. 9 

: 4 .6 






o \ 

O A, 

I 7 1 

O ^ 


Grapes . . ' '" 

77 4 

A J 

O ^ 

I ~\ 

14 Q 

i 6 

'14 ^ 


Peaches . . * ' 

80 A 


i 6 

W O 

O A. 

1 -J 

O 7 


O I 


Pears .....* ,'- ' 

80 9 

j- u 

j c 

O ^ 

I O 


I c 7 

o c 

: 17 


Plums -i- -5 

78 4 

lm j 

I O 

->0 I 1 

; -?o 


Including fiber. 



Apples. All fruits and berries of temperate regions are eaten 
with relish by poultry, but the apple is the only one that seems to 
contribute substantially to their nourishment. The others may be 
eaten in considerable quantities without any notable decrease in the 
amount of grain required, but birds having access to all the apples 
that they can eat will often eat much less grain than usual and 
thrive remarkably. 













in i oz. 

Wheat . ' i""V ."' '" 


/ 8 


// Q 

77 Q 

2 I 

6 ? 

Green bones . . . . . : 
Beef scrap 






I6. 5 
12 Q 


I 4 

I ^4. 

Pork scrap 


7 A 

-JQ (S 

i 7 


Dried blood . . . . .. 
Blood meal . 






6 5 .I 
74.. I 



-7 I 


; o 2 


Green bones. As usually collected, bones have some meat adher- 
ing. Different lots vary considerably in protein and fat. Green cut 
bone of average composition is generally considered the best of all 
animal foods for poultry. Its use is limited by the difficulty of se- 
curing regular supplies, by the labor of preparing it, and by the 
impossibility of keeping the prepared bone on hand in quantity in 
any but extreme cold weather. 

Beef scrap, pork scrap, meat meal, blood meal, dried blood, etc. 
are cooked preparations of the offal of slaughterhouses and packing 
houses. The scraps and meals are usually the residue of rendered 
lard and tallow, scraps being coarsely, and meal finely, ground. 
Goods of this class are often adulterated with material fit only for 
fertilizer. Even when composed wholly of edible elements, there 
are wide variations in quality, due to differences in condition of 
material used. A good article may usually be known by its appear- 
ance and by its odor when scalded. It should have the odor of 
cooked meat, not that of fertilizer. The great advantages in using 
these preparations are their convenience and their keeping qual- 
ities. Most of them will keep for some months under any ordinary 
conditions. Stored in a cool, dry place, goods of this kind have 
been kept for several years without apparent deterioration. 



In the general experience of poultry men the use of cooked-meat 
preparations has been found the best way to add protein and fat to 
rations deficient in those elements. While they are very valuable 
articles, their use is attended always with more or less risk, In 
addition to the dangers of unfit food already mentioned, there is 
danger of overfeeding a good article. These preparations are so 
highly stimulating that the poultryman is tempted to feed all of 
them that he dares; and, to further increase the risk, manufac- 
turers, in their desire to sell the largest possible quantities, recom- 
mend feeding much larger percentages than it would be safe to 
feed continuously if the goods contained even the minimum quan- 
tities of protein and fat guaranteed. As they often contain much 
greater percentages of these elements,. it is not at all unusual for 
poultry keepers following manufacturers' instructions to get into 
serious trouble through overfeeding products which are so much 
more concentrated than fresh meat. In special cases (to be men- 
tioned later) they may be fed very heavily ; usually it is safest to 
use only about half the amounts that the manufacturers suggest. 














in i oz. 




/ 8 

II. Q 

71 .0 

2 I 

1-6 ? 

I O2 

Fresh fish (general average) 
Fish scrap 


42.0 1 



'I A O 


6 c 

:o. 5 

O A 


Oysters (in shell) . . 
Long clams (in shell) . . 
Round clams (in shell) . 



4.2 7 


43-6 1 


4Q ~\ 




I O 



4 A 



2 I 

u o 




O C 

: i 

O 7 

D U 


Lobsters (in shell) . .... 
Crabs (in shell) .... 

3 1 - 1 








Fresh fish. All kinds of poultry seem to like fresh fish, and 
it could probably be fed to the limit of their appetites without 
detriment, but it is usually available for poultry food only in small 

1 Refuse (bone, skin, shells). This analysis is taken from a table of analysis 
of foods for human beings, for which purpose shells are offal. The ash content 
is of the fish without shell. 



quantities in kitchen waste. Tainted fish is likely to give a strong 
flavor to the flesh and eggs of birds to which it is fed. 

Fish scrap. Fish scrap is not in high favor as a poultry food. 
A possible reason for this is the poor quality of what is offered. 
The same quality is often sold for poultry food and for fertilizer. 
The bad effects of such articles are more quickly apparent when 
fed in moist mashes than when fed in dry mashes. A good, clean 
fish scrap should make an -excellent poultry food, but too much of 
what is sold does not answer this description, and the price, as 
compared with the price of beef scrap, is usually far too high. 

Shellfish. Poultry keepers living near the sea often give shell- 
fish very freely. A common practice is to grind shell and all to- 
gether. Fed in this way they are eaten with avidity and give 
most excellent results. 















in i oz. 

Wheat . . . 

IO < 

i 8 

i 8 


77 O 

J. U.J 

Whole milk . . . . . 

8 7 .2 






Skim milk (raised) . . . 


3- 1 



i :2 


Skim milk (separated) 







Buttermilk . ...... 







Whey . ... 

cn 8 

O A. 



O I 

"8 ; 

u o 

Cheese . . , . ... 


2"? 7 


-?6 Q 


1 07 

Milk albumin ,~ 

24 8 

-J C 

-? Q 

I -? q 


-j o 

'. A. A 


Milk. All milk products are good poultry foods. The exterjt of 
their use in any case is determined by the supply and the price. 

Separated skim milk and buttermilk are the forms of milk most 
generally available for poultry feeding. In the vicinity of a cream- 
ery separated skim milk and buttermilk are often very low in price 
and can be obtained in any quantity. Milk is usually given as a 
drink. When the supply is sufficient, many poultrymen use milk 
instead of water, to mix the mash. In this way the birds consume 
more of it than they otherwise would. No bad effects have been 
observed in such forced feeding of this article ; indeed, from the 
experience of Dr. C. F. Hodges, of Worcester, Massachusetts, in 



growing quail in captivity, it appears that the occasional feeding 
of buttermilk separately is most distinctly beneficial. Investigations 
at the Ontario Agricultural Experiment Station have also indi- 
cated a measurable feeding value for whey, which, when separated 
from the curd, had usually been thrown away by poultry keepers 
as of no value. 

Cheese. Cheese unsalable as food for human beings is sometimes 
available for poultry. Products of this kind are, as a rule, best fed 
after being cut up (in a meat or bone cutter) and mixed in mash, 
thus insuring approximately uniform distribution and the minimum 
of waste. 

Milk albumin. The albumin separated from milk in the manu- 
facture of milk sugar is a valuable poultry food, but supplies of it 
in the market are irregular. 



Fiber 1 










in i oz. 


IO. f 







I O2 

TTo-orc (hen) 

6c; c 


O Q 


Q ? 

I 'I 8 


Esffirs (duck) 




12. 1 

12. t; 

i : 2.7 


Efifffs (sroose) 






i : 2.2 


Effffs (turkev) 

61 * 



I 2 "> 

Q 7 



Eggs (guinea) .... 




II. 9 




Eggs. The eggs fed to poultry are usually infertile eggs tested 
out at different stages of incubation. Wherever considerable 
numbers of poultry are hatched, the infertile eggs are of much 
importance as food. Even those containing dead germs may be 
used for this purpose, if decay has not reached the stage where 
an offensive odor is produced. When mixed raw with ground grain 
or mixed in cake batter and cooked, eggs may be fed very freely. 
The hard-boiled egg, traditionally the best first feed for young 
chickens, is as well omitted from their diet. The preparation 
in this form is unnecessary, and if the eggs are stale, or if the 
cooking makes the white very tough, digestion may be difficult. 
As its analysis shows, the egg is a highly concentrated food. All 

i Shell. 


such foods need to be used with caution, when their natural form 
is changed, as by cooking. 

Mineral foods. The mineral elements (ash) in foods, disregarded 
in calculations of food values, are of great importance in nutrition 
and more important to poultry than to any other kind of domestic 
creature. The rate of growth of young poultry is very much more 
rapid than that of young horses, cattle, sheep, and swine. A chick 
weighing i^ ounces when hatched, and 27 ounces at ten weeks of 
age, has in the ten weeks multiplied its original weight eighteen 
times. In ducks and geese the rate is even more rapid. In all 
young poultry adequately supplied with material for making bone, 
the rate of growth of the skeleton is more rapid than that of the 
flesh (muscle). The adult female laying regularly requires (for the 
shells of the eggs) much larger percentages of lime in her food 
than any other creature consumes. Although (as the tables of analy- 
ses show) nearly all foods contain some mineral elements, and many 
contain quite large proportions of these elements, 1 green bone is 
the only common article of food carrying a percentage of mineral 
matter large enough to make it valuable for its special supply of ele- 
ments of this kind. Because green bone (from its limited use) is not 
a dependable source of supply of mineral foods, it is usual to supply 
pure mineral foods, sometimes in small quantities finely ground in 
mashes, but more generally in coarser form in receptacles from 
which the birds take what they want as appetite directs. Dry bones, 
shells, and various kinds of rock ground or crushed to convenient 
size are used for this purpose. Charcoal is also commonly used 
as an accessory to poultry rations. The actual need of these ac- 
cessories and the quantities needed depend in any case upon the 
amounts of mineral elements that the birds may secure in other 
foods, or may pick up for themselves. The subject has not received 
much attention from investigators, and nearly all studies along this 
line have included observations on grit based on the assumption that 
the primary function of grit is to grind food in the gizzard. From 
such investigations as have been made, and from common observa- 
tion, it appears that in ordinary good feeding of mixed rations 
under good conditions (range) young birds get quite all the mineral 

1 Some foods low in protein and fat are especially valuable for their ash con- 
tent; thus, bran is rich in phosphorus in an especially useful condition. 


elements that they require, 1 and that adult birds get all that they need 
except for the formation of eggshells when they are laying heavily. 

Dry bone. Granulated or finely broken dry bone and bone meal 
are the commercial forms in which bones are supplied for poultry 
feeding. Left to themselves, poultry will not injure themselves with 
bone in any form unless the ration they have been receiving has 
been very deficient in mineral elements. Bone meal is usually given 
in the mash and is a frequent cause of trouble. It should be used 
only occasionally and always in very small quantities. 

Oyster shells. Crushed or ground oyster shells are the most 
popular shell food for laying hens. As a rule young stock do not 
care for ground shell. If they are forced to eat it, no injury may 
follow, but neither will there be any apparent benefit. The need of 
material for eggshells and the value of oyster and similar shells for 
this purpose may be easily and quickly demonstrated in practice. 
When shell supplies have been insufficient, the beneficial effects 
of feeding shell will appear within two or three days. 

Digestible minerals. The digestible minerals are principally in 
the form of grits, the chief value of which is in the soluble mineral 
elements, that either contribute directly to nutrition or assist chemi- 
cally some vital process. When fed with indigestible grits, hens 
whose ration lacked mineral elements have frequently been known 
to consume and void very large quantities of grit daily. 2 

. '.Ttf 

1 How far these are derived from other foods and how far from minerals picked 
up on the range is a question for investigation. The question of grit, whether 
for grinding or as a supply of mineral elements required in nutrition, is much more 
easily disposed of in practice than in theory. Poultry keepers in practice gener- 
ally leave it to the poultry. Grit is cheap, and, keeping a supply of it before the 
birds, they know that if the birds need it, they have it. That disposes of the ques- 
tion in practice but does not affect its merits. I followed the common practice 
long after I was convinced in my own mind that the birds had no need of grit to 
grind their food, but finally abandoned it, and since about 1902 have given no grit 
to poultry except coarse gravel in the first feeds of young ducks and geese. The 
function of this appears to be mechanical and to relate as much to the operation 
of the crop as to the operation of the gizzard. This is sometimes apparent, also, in 
feeding adults fowls and ducks. The beneficial effects of coarse material are sometimes 
seen immediately on feeding that material, and long before it reaches the gizzard. 

2 In two such cases reported to me, consumption was at the rate of over a 
quart per day for twelve medium-sized hens. A pen of twenty-five extra large hens 
in my yards, supplied with indigestible grit and oyster shell, consumed in eight 
months less than a pint of the grit, but frequently ate a quart of shell a week, 
the consumption varying regularly according to egg production. 


Charcoal. Charcoal is usually recommended for its medicinal 
value. It is said to be a blood purifier and an absorbent of noxious 
gases generated in indigestion. The practical poultry keeper usually 
holds the same attitude toward charcoal as toward grit : it is inex- 
pensive, and by keeping it before the birds he makes sure that 
they get what they need. The occasional practice of feeding pow- 
dered charcoal in a mash is not to be recommended. From con- 
sideration of the properties claimed for charcoal it is obvious that 
there can be little need of it when all conditions are favorable and 
when the diet is right. 



A ration. In poultry feeding, the term "ration" refers particu- 
larly to the composition of the daily diet of a flock. The quantity of 
the ration is sometimes stated for flocks of given numbers, but the 
numbers in flocks and the sizes of birds are so variable that deter- 
minations of quantity must be made separately for each case. By 
the daily ration is meant, usually, the food given. If the birds 
are in yards large enough to supply them with green food and 
with some 'animal food, the ration given might be wholly of grain 
and the ration eaten might still contain all the green food that the 
birds would eat and enough animal food to make the failure of the 
keeper to supply that kind of food a matter of slight consequence. 
In such a case the ration given is a grain ration ; the ration eaten 
is a mixed or varied ration. Poultry wholly dependent on their 
keeper for food require that varied rations be given them. They 
may subsist for long periods on one kind of food or on a ration 
giving little variety, but variety in the forms of food is one kind 
of quality in a ration, and a ration lacking this is as insufficient as 
one that lacks the required quantity of any nutritive element. 

A balanced ration. In the usual technical sense of the phrase, a 
balanced ration is a ration in which nitrogenous and non-nitroge- 
nous elements are properly proportioned to meet the requirements 
of the creature considered and the purpose for which the ration is 
used, that is, a ration having the correct nutrient ratio. In the 
broadest practical sense a balanced ration is one in which all 
properties perceptibly affecting nutrition and results are in equi- 
librium. A ration may have the right proportions of principal 
nutrients and yet carry too much fiber or too much mineral matter ; 
or it may be too concentrated and " burn " the digestive organs ; or 
it may be so bulky that the greatest quantity the creature could 
consume would not provide sufficient nourishment. The propor- 
tions of hard and soft foods must also be balanced in some rations 



to secure the advantages of soft food and yet avoid the digestive 
disorders which may result from using it too freely. 

A balanced ration is an average ration. From the nature of 
the case it is impossible for the feeder to make the adjustment 
of a ration to requirements accurate. The requirements of a crea- 
ture vary from season to season and from day to day. Different 
lots of the same food article differ in composition. It is not 
possible to exactly determine the requirements of a creature at 
any point of time, nor is it practicable to analyse foods as used ; 
but as average requirements of creatures can be determined from 
observations covering long periods of time, as the average of 
analyses of many samples of a food gives approximately the com- 
position of ordinary lots of that food, and as experience has taught 
the right general proportions of concentrated and bulky, hard and 
soft, dry and wet foods for rations for different kinds of poultry 
and for different purposes, a ration balanced according to average 
analyses gives an average ration which will serve as a standard, 
and which, properly used, should give good results in every case, 
though in many cases some modification of it would give better 
results. Such modifications of standard, balanced rations can be 
made only by each feeder on personal knowledge of the results 
of using the standard ration in any case, and with an understand- 
ing of the properties of foods and of the probable results of 
making changes in the ration. 

In practice, such an adjustment of rations to requirements of 
poultry is a much simpler matter than it seems when stated ; for, 
as far as opportunity is given them, the birds select their food to 
meet their physiological needs, and hence nice judgment in feeding 
is not needed except to get results which, however profitable to 
the poultry keeper, and however necessary for his purpose, are 
inimical to the physical welfare of the birds (as in feeding young 
chickens for very rapid growth, or hens for great egg production, 
or in fattening poultry of any kind). In reality, in such cases the 
feeder's object is not to feed a balanced ration but to get as 
far as possible from it in a particular direction. Thus, in feeding 
for rapid growth, development of the body may be secured at the 
expense of vitality, while in fattening, the rations are so rich in 
fats and non-nitrogenous matter that many birds cannot stand 


them at all. Good judgment in selecting birds to be fed for a 
special purpose is the prime thing in feeding for that purpose. 

In common practice, feeding poultry is simple, easy work. The 
best feeding is, in fact, so simple that the most of those who 
undertake to feed correctly and fail, do so because they make the 
work unnecessarily complicated, and rely too much on their own 
understanding of the science of feeding and too little on the 
natural capacity of the birds to balance their own rations. Given 
normal, healthy, rugged birds and favorable conditions, a bright 
child of ten, sufficiently interested in a flock of poultry to give it 
regular attention, can feed it as well as any one. On the other 
hand, when debilitated stock is kept under unnatural conditions, 
all the knowledge of foods and all the skill and ingenuity in 
feeding that can be applied may be needed to get the same 
results. 1 

Methods of feeding are determined by foods, conditions, objects. 
General practice in any line of poultry feeding comes ultimately to 
the cheapest foods and the simplest methods that can be used. 

Foods. When the work is actually on an economic basis, the 
greater part of the rations used for poultry in any locality is deter- 
mined by supplies in that locality, either the surplus suitable for 
poultry food produced there or the surplus shipped in from other 
sections. The available foods are not always those which give 
absolutely the best results, but they usually give the greatest profits. 

Conditions affecting feeding require as much consideration as 
the composition of the ration. When the birds are kept under such 
conditions that they secure a part of their food for themselves, the 
kind and quantity thus secured have to be considered in deciding 
what food shall be given them. When conditions are such that they 
secure little or no food by foraging, it may be necessary to devise 
methods of feeding which will insure the normal exercise of the 
functions of or relating to nutrition. It is this incidental service, 
and not any special virtue in the feature or method, which gives 

1 To any one familiar with the practice of many poultry keepers under many 
conditions this seems the best explanation of the fact that many flocks do 
require very careful attention. Birds bred for generations under highly intensive 
conditions are, with rare exceptions, so lacking in vitality that feeding them suc- 
cessfully for any purpose becomes a system of dieting, and the ordinary routine 
of caring for them is more in the line of nursing than of practical husbandry. 


value to many methods of feeding which are supposed by those 
using them to have peculiar merit. 

The condition of most importance in relation to nutrition is 
exercise. In a state of nature poultry of all kinds feed, as a rule, 
slowly and continuously for periods which are long or short accord- 
ing to the abundance and variety of food. Thus, in feeding they 
take a great deal of exercise, using up physical energy and the 
surplus carbohydrates and fats in the food. Under such conditions 
poultry rarely accumulate fat to such a degree that vitality or any 
function is impaired. If fed with grain strewn thickly on bare 
ground, or grain or moist mash in troughs, the birds can eat in a 
few minutes, and with no effort except for the taking of the food, 
as much as they would ordinarily secure by foraging for several 
hours. The result is that fat is stored in the body until finally it 
interferes with many functions, and at the same time, through 
lack of use, the muscular system deteriorates and the bird becomes 

In every continuous line of poultry culture, exercise is necessary 
to maintain the physical vigor of the stock. Were the bird a mere 
machine, it might be possible to keep it in working order by limit- 
ing the quantities of fat-producing foods consumed. But poultry 
(and especially the gallinaceous birds) are organisms of a very ac- 
tive habit, requiring a great deal of physical exercise to keep them 
in condition, and even when all the food they consume is given 
them, it is usually found better to supply energy-producing foods 
freely, and have the birds keep themselves in condition by exercise. 
This practice has the further advantage of being more economical, 
for the non-nitrogenous elements are, on the whole, less costly, and 
a supply of them ample for all purposes insures conservation of 
the more costly nitrogenous elements in the ration. 

The common method of providing exercise for birds (particularly 
fowls) in restricted quarters is to feed the whole or cracked grains 
in a litter of straw, leaves, or other suitable material, from which 
they can get it only by scratching. 

Objects of feeding have a direct bearing on the selection of ra- 
tions and methods only when the object is a special one requiring 
a special ration, and not always in such cases, for occasionally it 
happens that the cheapest food and the simplest method will serve 


quite as well as the most elaborate plan of feeding that could be 
devised. This is most likely to be the case when poultry produced 
for a special purpose is-kept under very favorable conditions. Many 
poultry keepers use somewhat different rations and methods of 
feeding for birds destined for different uses. Thus, in growing 
poultry of all kinds, those that are to be killed as soon as fit may 
be fed without regard to the effects of heavy feeding and lack of 
exercise, while those that are to be reserved for laying and breed- 
ing purposes must be managed with care to secure sound constitu- 
tions and good physical development. Then the hen that is to 
be used only for egg production, and marketed as soon as she 
ceases to be a profitable layer, may be fed, after maturity, for heavy 
egg production at the expense of vitality, while the hen that is to 
be used for breeding purposes must be fed and handled with due 
consideration for the maintenance of constitutional vigor. 

Conditions are of more importance in all these cases than the 
composition of the rations. It is quite a common thing to find 
poultry keepers who use special rations for special purposes getting 
from two different rations results just the opposite of those which 
the rations are designed to produce, as, for instance, hens kept 
on a light or " maintenance " ration laying much better than others 
of the same stock on a " heavy laying " ration. 

Rations for special purposes. Special rations are necessary only 
when the object can be accomplished within a comparatively short 
period. A special ration for such use is properly a finishing ration, 
or a heavy forcing ration, and its profitable use is limited by its 
tendency to put the birds out of condition, and so, if too long 
continued, to defeat the purpose for which it is used. Makers of 
proprietary poultry rations sometimes offer special rations for almost 
every conceivable purpose, their claim being that each is exactly 
balanced for its purpose. The good foods of this class (except 
fattening rations) are merely average balanced rations, and the 
differences between them are insignificant, if not imaginary. Not 
infrequently neither inspection, analysis, nor use will discover any 
difference in these rations. As the poultry man buys them they are 
almost invariably more expensive than grains, though the principal 
ingredient in most of them is corn, the cheapest grain that the 
poultry man uses. They often contain large percentages of weed 


seeds, which the birds do not eat, and are sometimes heavily 
adulterated with grit. 1 

The sole advantage in using these mixtures is that the corn that 
they contain has been carefully selected and kiln dried, and is, there- 
fore, when the food is reasonably fresh, a safer food than much of 
the cracked corn found on the market during spring and summer. 

As a rule, a ration adapted to continuous use for any purpose 
for one kind of poultry is adapted to contimious use for that kind 
of poultry for all purposes. The only difference 2 in the require- 
ments of the growing chicken and of the laying hen are that the 
hen needs more lime, which is fed separately. The only difference 
in the requirements of the laying hen and of the molting hen is that 
the latter needs less lime. Between the requirements of the molting 
hen and those of the growing chick there is no difference requiring 
variation in rations. Even fattening (as will be shown when details 
of feeding are given) can often be done very quickly, with the 
ration slightly modified, by simply changing the conditions so that 
all the fat-forming food consumed goes to fat. 

Different rations are needed for different kinds of poultry. Yet, 
as natural rations are similar at many points, the feeding of several 
different kinds of poultry does not require that every feed be dif- 
ferent. In the use of mashes especially, the same mash may 3 
serve for all the common kinds of poultry, the variations necessary 
in the ration as a whole being made in other foods. This point 
is of no particular importance to specialists growing only one kind 
of poultry for one purpose. As a rule, the great majority of poultry 
keepers find it more profitable to keep several kinds and a small 
stock of each, and they save considerable labor by making parts 
of the various rations identical. Comparisons of specimen rations 
will show how far this may be done. 

1 Between 30 and 40 per cent of grit has been found in mixtures of grain for 
small chicks. Nearly all mixtures contain some grit (usually from 5 to 10 or 12 per 
cent), though the chicks do not need it at all. 

2 That is, difference which in the present state of knowledge of the science of 
poultry feeding can be considered in balancing rations. 

3 The conspicuous exception to this is that a few of the first feeds of mash for 
young waterfowl, and an occasional feed for a week or more, should have coarse 
sand or fine grit mixed with the mash. I am inclined to think that in this case 
the benefit is due to the supply of mineral matter rather than to that of a 
grinding substance. 


The same ration may be used for young and old poultry of the 
same kind. Young birds do as well on feed given to old birds as 
on rations designed especially for their size and tender age. Not 
every ration that might be used with good results for half-grown 
and adult stock is suitable for small birds, but a number of the 
rations in common use are suitable, or may be made so by very 
slight modification. The almost universal practice of babying and 
coddling young poultry has added greatly to the trouble and cost 
of rearing them. The feeding in particular has often been made a 
burden by the use of methods which hardly touched at any point 
the methods used for adult stock. It is natural for the young of 
all kinds of poultry to eat from the first the same foods as the 
adult birds. Their ability to feed themselves from the start is one 
of the principal points determining their usefulness in domestica- 
tion. It is easily demonstrated that, under favorable conditions, 
normal, healthy young birds will thrive on rations appropriate for 
old birds. If the stock is weak, or badly hatched or brooded, or 
kept under unfavorable conditions, the simpler diet and methods 
used for rugged adult stock may be insufficient, 1 because, like de- 
bilitated adult stock, the young birds require dieting and nursing. 
Young poultry intended to be marketed at a very early age (as squab 
broilers and green ducks) can be brought to marketable size more 
quickly on a special ration. This exception is in accordance with 
the statement that special rations are needed only when the object 
can be accomplished within a short period. 

Forcing rations. A forcing ration is any ration which furnishes 
food in excess of what birds would take of their own inclination, if 
abundantly supplied with food in general variety (grain, green stuff, 
and animal food). The same ration may be a forcing ration for one 
bird, not for another, and for the same bird a forcing ration at one 
time, not at another. The most familiar illustrations of this point 
are found in the relations between rations, conditions, and results 
in feeding laying hens in extreme warm weather and in warm winter 
weather. In extreme warm weather hens which can select their own 

1 Insufficient to keep the weakest birds alive, or to secure as good results under 
the conditions ; but, as a rule, it will be found that when weak and debilitated 
young poultry are given natural conditions and simple diet, those which survive 
the hardening process develop better than they would under treatment which 
brought a larger proportion to maturity. 


ration often eat so much green food that they have no appetite for 
grain and will not consume enough to furnish the material for 
constant egg production. In such cases the only way to keep up 
egg production is to cut off or diminish the supply of green food. In 
warm winter weather the regular ration, suitable for normal winter 
conditions, may become a forcing ration. Poultry in winter quar- 
ters are rarely supplied with all the green food they will eat. In 
sudden changes from cold to warm weather they continue to eat 
the usual quantity of the heavy winter ration, and many birds very 
quickly break down under it. 

Forced feeding is almost universal among poultrymen. 1 All 
regular, good feeding is in a sense forced feeding. Even under 
natural conditions, with opportunity to balance their own rations, 
full-fed poultry develop faster and better individually, but at the 
cost of shorter life and reduction of vitality in the offspring. The 
poultryman's object is to get as much as possible out of the birds 
in the shortest possible time ; that is, to market as soon as possible 
those destined primarily for the table, and to keep laying and breed- 
ing poultry only as long as they are highly productive. He forces 
by feeding, but not (intentionally) to the danger point, just as a 
careful horseman often drives his horse much faster and farther 
than the horse would go of its own accord, yet avoids overdriving. 

Forced feeding is done not only by increasing the proportions 
of proteins and fats in rations, but also by increasing the quantity 
of the food consumed. In the cramming method of fattening, 
the birds are actually forced to eat larger quantities of food than 
they would take for themselves. The use of a variety of foods, 
and of variations in the form in which food is given, has the 
effect of inducing poultry to eat more food. This is much the 
safest way of forced feeding, and the only one adapted to long 
periods. It may be carried to its limits without perceptible injury 
to vigorous birds. 

1 The usual declaration of the poultryman describing methods or reporting 
results, that he does no forced feeding, is erroneous, though not always inten- 
tionally so. There is a great deal of misconception on the subject. Some think 
that feeding a ration in common use is not forcing. Some call feeding animal food 
forcing. One foreign authority on feeding calls feeding green bone forcing, but 
feeding meat meal not forcing, a most absurd distinction, for of the two the use 
of meat meal is attended with much greater risk. 


Special preparation of food for poultry. With the exception of 
cracked corn the hard grains fed to poultry require no preparation. 
Though they are sometimes mixed before feeding, it has never 
been shown that there is any advantage in the practice. Ground 
grains and by-products usually require some preparation. Vege- 
tables, fruits, and hay are fed with or without special preparation, 
according to the nature of the article and to circumstances. In 
general, the poultry keeper who has reduced the labor of poultry 
keeping to the minimum does nothing in preparing food for the 
birds that they could do for themselves without undue waste. 
Variations in this practice are usually for economic reasons, econ- 
omy of time as well as of feed materials being considered. To 
some extent custom and habit fix practice, many continuing to do 
some parts of their work by methods not the most economical 
for them, though in general, their work is on an economical basis. 

Mashes. Ground foods as fed to poultry are called mashes. Pri- 
marily and properly the term " mash" applies to a moist mixture of 
ground grain stuffs, either raw or cooked. The term "mash" was 
generally used in that sense until a few years ago, when the practice 
of feeding these foods without wetting gained some popularity, and 
the food in this form began to be called a dry mash. 1 

The practice of feeding mashes possibly arose first in connection 
with the feeding of kitchen and table waste containing large pro- 
portions of liquid or semiliquid foods (as soups, gravies, puddings, 
etc.), full utilization of which required that they be thickened 
with ground grain. As the numbers of birds increased until 
the table-waste mash was insufficient, cheap vegetables and meats 
were often cooked and, with the water they were cooked in, made 
the basis of a mash. When these were not available, mashes were 
made of ground grains alone. The great advantage of the mash of 
table waste was in the variety of rich and palatable foods that it 
added to the ration. This advantage is continued in less degree in 
mashes containing vegetables and meat, though mashes of the lat- 
ter kind have far less variety and are often altogether lacking in 
the seasoning articles, salt, pepper, mustard, etc., considerable 
quantities of which are in refuse from the table. 

1 The term "dry mash " is a misnomer, but as it has come into general use, it is 
retained to avoid confusion. 


The supposed advantage of the mash (principally of grain) as it 
came to be used by those keeping large stocks of poultry was that 
the ground grain furnished food elements more quickly available 
than those in the whole grain. While it was the almost universal 
practice to feed mashes in the morning, the idea that there was 
a great advantage in giving poultry a breakfast that would be 
quickly digested and assimilated seemed very plausible. When the 
fashion of feeding mash in the evening became popular, it was 
found that as good results were obtained by one method as by 
the other. Those who fed mashes at noon were able to report 
equally good results. So common experience showed that it made 
no difference at what time the mash was fed. Comparisons also 
show that equally good results may be obtained, whether the mash 
is raw (mixed with cold water or milk), partly cooked (scalded), 
or thoroughly cooked. Poultry seem to do as well on a mash of 
good consistency in whatever way it may be made. Sometimes 
those accustomed only to a mash made in a certain way do not at 
first like one made in another way. It is possible, too, that the 
digestive organs of birds accustomed to mashes prepared in one 
of the ways mentioned do not immediately adjust themselves to 
mashes prepared in another way. 

In general, the method of preparing the mash is determined by 
the character of the ingredients used, and by the custom or con- 
venience of the feeder. The use of thoroughly cooked mashes 
is decreasing, and the tendency is to scald only when necessary 
to give the mash the proper consistency, a point which depends 
mostly on the ingredients. Thus, a mash of corn meal and bran 
will not stick together unless the meal is swelled by scalding, but 
if a sufficient quantity of middlings or red-dog flour be added, it 
will give cohesive quality to the mass, without the treatment neces- 
sary to get that property immediately from the corn meal. 

Making mashes. A dry mash is made by simply mixing the dry ingredients. 
Moist mashes may be made in a number of ways. The methods of making 
them vary according to the degree of cooking and according to the kinds and 
proportions of adhesive elements that the ingredients contain. Leaving out 
of consideration the effects of cooking, the object secured by moistening the 
dry ingredients is the cohesion of the particles so that the finely ground stuffs 
are eaten easily and without waste. This condition of the food is brought 
about not simply by moisture but by a proper degree of moisture, and by the 


application of the moisture to suit the condition of the ingredients used. It de- 
pends, first of all, upon the presence in the foodstuffs of a sufficient amount of 
elements having cohesive properties. These are found chiefly in the finer and 
heavier ingredients (as meal and flour) and are lacking in such foods as pure 
bran and finely ground or cut hay. In any mixture, given a sufficient propor- 
tion of foodstuffs having cohesive properties, the development of a cohesive 
condition of the mixture requires that there be added to it only as much water 
as is necessary to establish cohesion. If an excess of water be added, the 
adhesive elements are too much diluted and so fail to hold the mass together, 
and it becomes sloppy. If the proportion of adhesive elements is very large, 
the mass, though containing too much water, still holds together as a soggy 
dough. A mash that is merely sloppy is usually unpalatable and not so readily 
eaten by poultry as a mash of better consistency ; it adheres to the feed troughs 
and so may give as much waste as a dry mixture. A soggy, doughy mash is 
very indigestible. 

The adhesive materials commonly used in mashes are corn meal, shorts 
(proper), red-dog flour, low-grade flour, and ground oats. The adhesive prop- 
erties of corn meal can be developed instantly only by scalding, wetting 
with boiling water. They are most pronounced in corn meal of good quality. 
The adhesive qualities of wheat and oat products may be developed quickly 
by wetting with cold water. Hence, a mash of corn meal and bran can be 
made of the proper consistency only by scalding or cooking, while a mash 
composed largely of corn meal may be given the desired consistency without 
cooking, by the addition of one of the glutinous wheat products in sufficient 

When corn meal is to be scalded it is advisable to scald it separately, 
making a stiff mush, and then stir in the other ingredients. If vegetables, 
clover, or hay are cooked for the mash, enough water may be added to them 
to scald the required quantity of meal ; after the vegetables are cooked, and 
while the water is boiling, the meal should be stirred in and then the other 
ingredients. When the mash is mixed cold,' the meals may be mixed before 
wetting. If a scalded mash turns out too crumbly because of a poor scald, or 
because of the addition of too much bran, the fault may be corrected by adding 
water and flour until the desired consistency is obtained. 

Oatmeal and ground oats work better when scalded, but will work up 
better with cold water than corn meal. When milk, either cold or scalding, 
is used for mixing mashes, less cohesive material is needed in the mash than 
when it is mixed with water under the same conditions. Good beef scraps 
and animal meals have highly cohesive properties, which develop quickly by 
scalding and more slowly when wet with cold water. Soaked overnight with 
a sufficient amount of water they swell enormously, and a good mash may be 
made by soaking them thus in a pail or, if a large quantity is to be used, in a 
mixing trough or box, then mixing in the grains in the morning. If preferred, 
they can of course be soaked all day and the mash mixed in the evening. The 
amount of water required varies and must be determined by experiment. 


Infertile eggs and eggs dying in early stages of incubation may be used in 
mashes. All sorts of juicy and pulpy vegetable and fruit refuse may be used 
freely in mashes by mixing with them the kinds of ground foods required to 
give them proper consistency. 

Small quantities of mash may be mixed in a pail with an iron spoon or with 
a paddle, but for more than five or six quarts it will be found easier and more 
satisfactory to use a mixing box and mix with a spade. In this way the mixing 
is more quickly and thoroughly done, and a much smaller proportion of water 
is required. 

Standard mashes. While the composition of mashes in use 
among good poultrymen varies somewhat, the differences in pro- 
portions are largely influenced and offset by differences in other 
parts of the ration or by differences in conditions. For convenience 
of description and comparison three standard mashes may be 
taken: (i) a standard grain mash, made of ground grains ex- 
clusively ; (2) a standard gram and meat mash, like the first 
with the addition of meat scrap or meat ; (3) a standard complete 
mash, containing ground grain, meat, and vegetable foods in such 
proportions that it furnishes enough of these elements to keep the 
birds in good condition, if not as much as they would take if fully 
supplied and selecting their own ration. The proportions given 
are by measure. 

1. Standard grain mash. I part corn meal, 2 parts wheat bran. 

2. Standard grain and meat mash. I part corn meal, 2 parts 
wheat bran, 5 per cent of beef scrap or animal meal added. 

3 . Standard complete mash, i part corn meal, I part wheat bran, 
i part vegetables, 5 per cent of beef scrap or animal meal added. 

NOTE. Supposing each of these mashes fed to adult birds once a day (all 
that the birds will eat): Mash No. i requires with it hard grain and animal and 
vegetable food ; Mash No. 2, hard grain and vegetable food ; Mash No. 3, hard 
grain. The mash appropriate at any time and place depends upon how far the 
requirements of the birds are supplied outside of the mash, and whether it is 
more economical and convenient to supply animal and vegetable foods in the 
mash or separately. The mashes described represent the minimum requirements 
under ordinary conditions. The use of whichever of these is appropriate 
should give good results, though not, perhaps, the best possible results. All 
are rather light, safe mashes which, if properly mixed, may be fed freely. 
They are often improved by the addition of other articles, as noted in 
examples to follow ; but with other parts of the ration as indicated, markedly 
bad or poor results could not be due to feeding. Nos. i and 2 make good dry 
mashes for birds otherwise full fed. No. 3 is not adapted to dry feeding. 


Popular standard mashes approximately chemically balanced 
rations. Since the common whole grains have very nearly the 
nutrient ratio of a standard ration, the ratio of nutrients in the 
mashes fed with them should be about the same. Wide variations 
(amounting to errors) from common nutrient standards in the mash 
cannot be corrected in the hard grains of the ration, but must be 
corrected either in the mash or by furnishing special supplies of 
foods of the required character. The use of mashes and espe- 
cially of wet mashes mixed from day to day as used, and varied 
in composition according to the judgment of a skillful feeder 
gives opportunity to use to full advantage many waste products or 
cheap food products, to add to the variety of the ration by occa- 
sional changes in the ingredients, composition, and consistency of 
the mash, and, when desired, to make quick modifications of the 
whole ration without changing other parts of it. The mash used 
in this way gives the greatest possible flexibility to a ration. Con- 
sidering results without reference to cost of labor, it is generally 
agreed that a skilled feeder can get better actual results by using 
wet mashes than it is possible to get in any other way. As to the 
advantage of using wet mashes when labor is considered, there is 
less unanimity of opinion. 

Errors in the use of wet mashes. The wet mash, being capable 
of great variation in composition and consistency, may become a 
dangerous factor in the hands of an unskillful or of a careless 
feeder. The greatest risks attend the misuse of the mash in feed- 
ing poultry lacking in vitality and digestive power. Such birds may 
be very seriously affected by sloppy, doughy, or sour mashes when 
rugged birds would eat them with impunity. 

Dry mashes. Dry mashes came into use because of the diffi- 
culties that many poultry keepers experienced in using wet mashes, 
and because of the apparent saving of labor in preparing and the 
greater convenience (in many instances) in feeding them. 

Personal estimates of the value of dry mashes, as of all features in 
feeding, are usually based on a comparison of the results of feeding 
dry mashes with the results secured by the same person without 
them, rather than on comparisons with any general standards of 
results, or with the net results of .the various changes in items 
affecting the cost of handling poultry which the use of a dry mash 


introduces. On the whole, the dry mash has not the advantage as 
a labor saver claimed by those who exploit 1 it, though there are 
features of its use which often give it a very distinct advantage. 2 
These are : 

1. Convenience. Though it deteriorates with age, a dry mash 
does not spoil so quickly as moist mashes do. Hence it may be fed 
in hoppers always accessible to the birds, and the supply may be 
replenished at any convenient time, at intervals of a few days, a 
week, or even longer, according to the capacity of the hopper and 
the size of the flock. 

2. Full feeding. In the hands of an inexpert feeder a dry mash 
of the right composition, kept constantly before the birds, will 
almost invariably give better results than a wet mash, provided 
the same hard grains are given with the dry as would be given 
with the wet mash. If (as is often the case) an effort is made to 
compel the birds to consume certain considerable quantities of the 
dry-mash mixture by reducing the grain until they will eat the de- 
sired quantity of the dry mash, the results are likely to be disap- 
pointing, for the birds do not like dry mashes well enough to eat 
them freely, and are likely to be underfed. With a sufficient supply 
of hard grain the dry mash becomes a supplementary feed, not 

1 It is doubtful whether dry-mash feeding would have become prominent among 
poultry methods but for the advertising of trade mixtures represented as special 
balanced rations for various purposes. For several years after dry mashes began 
to be exploited in the poultry press, it was noticeable that those advocating and 
reporting remarkable results by their use were, almost without exception, directly 
or indirectly interested in the sale either of dry mashes or of hoppers to contain 
them, and this method is still very much dependent on the advertising of interested 
parties for the attention that it gets. The fact does not condemn the method, but 
it must be considered in estimating its actual value and status. Usually the com- 
plete " balanced ration " is procured by buying a mixture of hard grains from the 
same concern. Many of these feeds make good rations, but as many advertisers 
labor, with some measure of success, to convince customers that they must have 
these preparations and none other, it not infrequently happens that a poultry 
keeper short of a supply of his favorite commercial ration puts his birds on short 
allowance of it rather than take chances of spoiling the supposed exactly balanced 
ration, the " formula " for which is the proprietor's " secret." 

2 In correspondence with a large number of poultry keepers using dry mashes, 
I was surprised to find a large proportion of them not making use of the advan- 
tages of the method. Many fed dry mash in limited quantities, giving it daily. 
Many fed both wet and dry mashes, this practice actually making more labor than 
when the dry mash was not used. 


attractive in form yet fed in such a manner that it may be eaten 
quite rapidly. Being always before the birds, it gives the weaker 
ones and the slow feeders an opportunity to eat all they want ; be- 
ing unattractive in form, it does not tempt others to overeat ; and 
so the food consumption of the flock is more equal. As far as 
growth and production are concerned, full feeding, uniform through- 
out the flock, is the principal advantage in the use of the dry mash. 
Dangers in the use of dry mashes. Ground grains fed to poultry 
in a dry state have a marked costive property. If the remainder of 
the ration is too laxative for general use or for birds with- a ten- 
dency to looseness of the bowels, an appropriate quantity of dry 
ground foods may be a corrective or preventive of diarrhea. Under 
any other conditions a dry mash may be too constipating. The 
costive property of dry mashes is particularly dangerous when a 
mash contains a high percentage of animal food or other substance 
rich in protein or fat, because it may prevent the slight diarrhea 
which would give immediate warning of the injurious effects due to 
an excess of concentrated food. Makers of commercial dry mashes 
take advantage of this to use in their mixtures large proportions 
of highly concentrated foods (not always of good quality), which 
stimulate for a time but in the end bring about the usual results of 
too heavy feeding of such articles. The tendency to produce con- 
stipation may be offset by the liberal use of succulent foods, and 
by feeding hard grain so freely that the consumption of mash is 
small. The danger due to excess of concentrates is avoided by the 
feeder mixing the mashes himself and limiting the percentage of 
concentrates, or it may be greatly decreased by free feeding in 
other parts of the ration. 


Of the examples of rations which follow, some are common rations in gen- 
eral use among practical poultry feeders who have worked them out in practice, 
without considering their chemical elements, often without acquaintance with 
the science of feeding. Rations of this kind can rarely be accurately described. 
Each one who uses them knows about what quantities of different ingredients 
he uses, but few know exact quantities and proportions, and the more skillful 
a feeder is, the greater and more frequent are his variations from the standard 
which would express the general average of his rations. The skillful feeder 
comes, in time, to have a nice judgment in varying rations to suit conditions, 


and, to break the monotony of the usual routine of eating, will often, for brief 
periods, make very radical departures from his usual practice. Thus he gives 
at one time a very rich mash, at another time a very light one ; but he selects 
the time for such changes with judgment, with a thorough knowledge of his 
stock, and with an eye to the effect of the change on the general ration. Some 
persons using approximately a common ration can describe their own ration 
exactly. Two or more persons approximating a common standard, but with 
different variations, may each suppose his the better ration. Usually in such 
cases the rations are of equal value, the differences being immaterial either in 
themselves or because of modifying circumstances. . 

All rations in common use have wide adaptability. The kinds most useful 
for examples are those used at the various experiment stations. These are 
more accurately described than most of the rations used elsewhere, and the re- 
sults of using them are more fully stated, in reports of regular work, as well as 
in reports of special experiments. The rations selected for examples are not all 
good. The poor ration is sometimes valuable for purposes of illustration. 

Examples of all kinds of rations are given and discussed as far as seems to 
serve the general purpose of giving a comprehensive understanding of the 
subject of feeding. 

The examples are arranged (i) according to the character of the rations, 
first growing (including producing], \her\Jimshtng, or fattening] (2) according 
to the kind of poultry for which they are used ; (3) to show the sequence of 
rations used in a system or in a certain practice. 

Quantities are by measure except as otherwise stated. 1 


1 . For young chickens on good range. Cracked Corn and water. 

This method of feeding young chickens was used for years by a farmer in 
Massachusetts, who grew each season about five hundred White Wyandottes to 
keep up his stock of laying hens. The range was in orchard and later in the 
season over mowing land, supplying abundance of green food but not of animal 
food. The ration was defective. Chickens grown in this way deteriorated in size, 
but the average size of stock was maintained at a little below the average for 
Wyandottes by using for sires large males from other flocks. This farmer also 
engaged quite extensively in gardening. His method of handling his chickens 
was developed because it was not possible for him, without neglecting other in- 
terests, to give them the time and attention that more elaborate methods required. 

2. For young chickens on good range. Mash (table scraps mixed, cold, 
with corn meal, shorts, and bran, equal parts) once a day; cracked corn in 
troughs or hoppers before the birds at all times. 

1 In common practice it is more convenient to mix feeds by measure than by 
weight. When large quantities are mixed it is usual to measure by the bag&&& part of 
a bag. Then the mixing is still by measure, but the weights of measures of "various 
ingredients are known. In experimental work parts are usually given by weight. 


The chickens in this case were kept in an orchard, about seventy-five 
chickens having the range of about an acre of land. As the chicks grew, the 
allowance of mash for each was quite small, but this was made up in the waste 
apples falling from the trees. Under the conditions the ration was ample, 
securing the full development of the birds. Practically the same results would 
be secured by feeding any good mash in place of that used. 

3. For chickens {for market} in brooder houses and on poor range from 
weaning to maturity. Cracked corn and beef scrap always before them in 
separate hoppers ; limited pasture of winter rye ; occasional feeds of cabbage. 

This is the ration in common use among the soft-roaster growers of eastern 
Massachusetts, from the time when the chickens leave the brooder houses. The 
supply of green food is usually much less than the birds would take. The ration 
is a fattening one and does not, as a rule, secure the fullest development (growth) 
of the birds, but in some cases remarkably large, fine birds are produced. The 
birds are not confined, but the range after the early part of the season affords 
scant picking. They take only exercise enough to keep digestion good, and be- 
come as fat as the American market requires, without any addition to this ration. 

4. For young chickens. Baked "johnnycake" (or any similar cake) fed as 
often daily as desired, either without hard grains or in alternation with them. 
Fine table scraps and infertile eggs may be mixed in johnnycake, making it 
a more complete ration. To make such a cake, add a little soda to sour milk, 
put in the scraps finely broken and the, eggs (including shell), stir in coarse 
corn meal to make a very stiff batter, bake well. 

This is a convenient way of providing the "soft" food for small flocks of 
chicks in a form in which it may be kept in good condition for a number of days. 
Clean, sweet table scraps (broken small) and infertile eggs (with shells) may be 
mixed in the batter and baked, making the cake a complete ration, except for 
the green food. Chicks on young grass can get all the green food that they need 
for themselves. Chicks in confinement will do very well on this cake alone for 
a while, but are better for regular supplies of green food. After a few weeks 
chicks which do not get green food begin to show lack of development. Some 
poultry keepers bake cakes for quite large numbers of young chickens, but it is 
neither necessary nor economical to do so. 

5 . For young chickens on good range. Mash in the morning ; cracked corn at 
9.30 A.M. ; cracked corn, whole wheat, or mash at 2 P.M. ; cracked corn at 6 P.M. 

The difference between this and example 3 is only in the method of feeding, 
the grains (and sometimes one mash feed) being given, in about such quantities 
as are required, at stated times. This is often advisable for small lots of chicks 
when keeping supplies of food before them attracts pigeons or sparrows. Some 
poultry keepers who grow large numbers of chicks also prefer to give regular 
feeds, especially if the conditions are not favorable to exercise or if it seems 
advisable to keep quite close oversight of the stock. 

6. For weaned chicks and fowls on good range. Mash in the morning ; 
cracked corn or any grain or mixture of grains desired, a day's allowance 
scattered broadcast over the range ; mash in the evening. 


This is one of the simplest and most satisfactory ways of feeding stock birds 
in summer, to develop frame and muscle and constitution in the young and to 
keep the adults in good condition. The grain may be -scattered in grass several 
inches high or in brush. The birds will get it all and require no attention 
from morning until evening. 

7. For fowls in houses with littered floors. Mash once a day (morning, 
noon, or night) ; the day's allowance of grain (any common grain or mixture) 
scattered in the litter at any time of day. Cabbage or mangels before the 
fowls at all times. 

This is example 6 adapted to winter conditions. In summer the feeding 
may be done at any time of day, but usually morning and evening are more 
convenient. In winter it is often an advantage to give the food at noon 
or in the evening. If the quantity of litter on the floor is sufficient, and 
the grain is well concealed, there is no objection to giving the grain and mash 
at the same time. As a rule, the birds will eat the mash first. They may 
pick up a little of the grain at that time, but most of it is left until they are 
hungry again. 

8. For brooder chicks. Start the chicks on commercial mixtures, given 
five or even six times a day in troughs, with occasionally a feed of beef scrap 
instead. After the first few days, give two or three of the feeds of dry mash 
(two parts shorts, or mixed feed, to one part corn meal) by measure. After the 
chicks are three or four weeks old the commercial mixture is discontinued, 
and the ration consists of dry mash and beef scraps, and a " scratch feed " con- 
sisting of one part hulled oats, one part cracked wheat, and two parts cracked 
corn. This, with green food as available, is continued until the chicks are about 
ten or twelve weeks old. 

This is the ration used by a soft-roaster grower up to the time when his 
chickens go into the colony houses and are given the ration in example 3. 
Frequent feeding is advisable when chicks are kept in large numbers under 
artificial conditions. This is to keep them occupied and to prevent the develop- 
ment of vices and the soiling of the food (on the floor or in shallow troughs) 
rather jthan because (as is commonly supposed) the chicks need feed so often. 
By feeding often, and feeding a considerable amount of soft foods and concen- 
trated foods, little chicks grow faster at first, up to about ten or twelve weeks. 
After that those brought up on three or four meals a day, of which a large per- 
centage is hard grain, will usually outgrow them, because they have better 
digestion and greater vitality. The use of commercial mixtures does not always 
indicate that the feeder regards them as better than corn or than such a mix- 
ture as he might make himself. Some do prefer certain brands, but it is not 
unusual for manufacturers to offer inducements to poultry growers of reputa- 
tion to use some of their feeds, if only a few bags annually. In the above 
ration, feeding is not reduced to the simplest form, as it is in the rations used 
by the growers in this section for the weaned chicks. 

9. For laying stock on good range. Mash, corn meal, bran, and beef 
scrap in varying proportions, from one third to one half of the ground grains 


(by measure), corn meal, and from 5 to 10 per cent of the total beef scrap or 
animal meal ; cooked overnight ; fed in the morning ; grain in hoppers acces- 
sible at all times. 

This is the method of the colony poultry-farming district of Rhode Island. 
Different poultry keepers here vary the proportions of ingredients in the 
mash, often according to habit or individual custom rather than on judg- 
ment. Cracked corn is the principal grain fed. Mixtures of grains are some- 
times used, or variety may be introduced by occasionally filling a grain hopper 
with wheat or oats. The point of chief interest in connection with practice in 
this district is the general uniformity of results in spite of considerable super- 
ficial differences in feeding practice, and the generally good condition of the 
stock in spite of features of feeding which, under less favorable conditions, are- 
apt to cause trouble. To illustrate : One may find one farmer feeding to young 
chickens, goslings, and ducklings a very carefully made and cooked mash, 
his next neighbor feeding a very carelessly compounded, sloppy mash, and all 
the youngsters thrifty. 1 The general conditions and the abundance of other 
food reduce the. advantage of careful, and minimize the ill effects of careless, 
feeding. Data for close comparisons of results and profits are not obtainable, 
but it is easily seen that some of the most prosperous poultry keepers in the 
Rhode Island district would soon put themselves out of business if they should 
undertake to apply their feeding practice under intensive conditions. 


Examples 10-16 give the various rations used at the Maine Experiment 

10. For young chickens in brooders. For the first two or three days, infer- 
tile eggs boiled for half an hour, ground (shell and all) in a meat chopper and 
rubbed together with about six times their bulk of rolled oats, and fed with 
chick grit on the brooder floor. About the third day the following mixture of 
small broken grains is given : 

Parts by 

Cracked wheat 15 

Pinhead oat meal . . . . ' .' . ' '. .'. . "."". . ' * . '-. . . . . 10 

Fine cracked corn . . . . '.* .... V 15 

Fine cracked peas .."'- .' 3 

Broken rice ' . > 2 

Chick grit . . , . . ..<...:;.;/. ....... 5 

Fine charcoal .;....* 2 

1 In a trip through this district in May, 1911,3 number of the farmers whom I met 
complained to me that rations always before satisfactory did not seem to agree 
with young chickens, geese, and ducks. This is easily explained. Both the spring 
and the preceding winter were bad seasons for poultry. Consequently, the stock 
was weakened and the young birds could not stand errors in their diet which, 
under more favorable circumstances, had produced no ill effects. 


22 5 

This is fed at daylight in such quantity that the chicks will be hungry for a 
nine o'clock feed of the boiled-egg and rolled-oat mixture.' At 1 2.30 the hard- 
grain mixture is fed again ; at 4.30 or 5 the egg-and-oat mixture. 

When the chicks are about three weeks old the following wet mash is 
substituted for the egg-and-oat mixture: 

Parts by 

Wheat bran (clean) 2 

Corn meal . 4 

Middlings or red-dog flour 2 

Linseed meal --. . i 

Beef scrap 2 

This mixture is slightly moistened with water and fed in troughs. When 
the chicks are five or six weeks old the fine-grain mixture is discontinued and 
the feeds given in the litter are wheat and fine cracked corn. 

This ration and the method of using it may be taken as typical of practice 
with brooder chicks. The frequent feedings appear to be necessary when 
chicks are kept in large groups (from fifty to one hundred or more in each brooder 
or section) under artificial conditions. In the prevailing view the danger of 
keeping food by them is the danger of overfeeding. It is more likely that the 
true causes of the disorders that sometimes result from that practice, in the 
conditions under consideration, are slow poisoning through eating food soiled 
by the excrement of the birds, weak constitutions or weak digestion requiring 
dieting, and the concentrated nature of the mashes used. In this case the egg- 
and-oat combination is a very rich food ; so is the mash with every ingredient 
but wheat bran (two elevenths of the whole) a heavy food. Wrong tempera- 
tures in brooders are also often responsible for troubles for which the food is 
blamed. In using rations of this kind it is not essential that the proportions 
of different ingredients be carefully adjusted. It is not always certain that 
all the foods in a hard-grain mixture like this are eaten. Comparison of 
results with simpler rations indicates an equal feeding value for rations con- 
taining fewer articles. Many poultry keepers prefer to feed such foods as 
peas, rice, millet, etc. in small quantities separately, so that they may observe 
just how they are eaten, and feed accordingly. Grit and charcoal are usually 
given separately in small troughs or hoppers. As has been, stated, the necessity 
of these food accessories is doubtful. It is certain that they are not required 
regularly in the proportions here used. 

ii. For young chickens in brooders. Same as above, except that fine beef 
scrap is substituted for eggs in the oat mixture and the mash used is a dry 
mash of the following composition : Parts , 


Rolled oats 2 

Wheat bran . 2 

Corn meal 2 

Linseed meal 2 

Beef scrap ....'.. *. I 


12. For young chickens in brooders. Same as above, except that the first 
mash for the chicks is compounded as follows : 

Parts by 

Wheat bran . . '.-. ; ';"' . . .- . 'V' .'.'';- ... . . 4 

Corn meal . . . . ". . -.-'"* .' i .. . . 3! 

Linseed meal . . ; :.-.;.-. | 

Beef scrap . . .' -. . -. 2 

Alfalfa meal . , . . . . . ; . ,,.''. -. f .". . . . . . . . i 

To this mixture when scalded is added one part of rolled oats to three parts of 
the mixture, the oats being added after scalding, to prevent the sogginess pro- 
duced when rolled oats are scalded in the mixture. This mash and the grains 
as in ration 10 are fed until the chicks are about three weeks old, when the 
following mash is used until the chicks are from six to eight weeks old : 

Parts by 


Wheat bran , ., 2 

Corn meal ^ ........ 3 

Linseed meal . ... ... . \ 

Daisy flour . . . . . . ., . . . .. . : .' . . i 

Beef scrap . . . ... ...,'. .1 . . . ', ''. .' . . i 

Ration 12 is preferred at the Maine station. If the criticism on the con- 
centrated nature of the mash in ration 10 is sound, a ration preferred to it in 
practice must be less concentrated. The first mash used in ration 1 2 has in 
the dry mixture four elevenths of wheat bran and one eleventh of alfalfa meal, 
a still more bulky article. The rolled oats, introduced after scalding, still 
further lightens the mixture, so that this mash, as fed, is only about half as 
concentrated as that in ration 10. 

13. For young chickens in brooders. Same as above, fed later in the season, 
when the chicks could get out on the ground. The mixture of grains described 
in 10 and the mash described at 11 (fed dry in troughs) always before them. 

As reported, this worked well except in bad weather, when the chicks 
remained under cover and, it is stated, " would hang around the troughs and 
overeat, would grow rapidly for a few days, then commence to go lame, eat 
little, arid seek the warm hover never to recover." Such a result is in accord- 
ance with what was said (p. 220) of the dangers of dry mashes rich in concen- 
trated foods. With food of the right composition and consistency, overfeeding 
healthy chickens on a good range is practically an impossibility. 1 In this case 
the range was not large enough to furnish full supplies of green and of animal 
food. It did not afford the full advantages of a range. 

1 I think that it will be found, on close investigation, that this applies to chicks 
under all conditions. That it applies to natural conditions is certain. I have 
not, in recent years, been so situated that I could test its application to arti- 
ficial conditions. An adequate test of this point would require experiments more 
extensive and elaborate than an individual poultry keeper can make. 


14. For weaned chicks on range (one thousand chicks to two acres). 
Cracked corn, wheat, cracked bone, and oyster shell and grit, in separate slatted 
troughs, in constant supply ; also, in separate trough, the following dry-mash 
mixture : 

Parjs by 

Wheat bran x 

Corn meal 2 

Middlings ! 

Beef scrap T 

This method of feeding has been found satisfactory under the conditions 
described. The dry-mash mixture is too rich for general use, but the constant 
supply of cracked corn and wheat, and the range conditions, enable the birds 
to balance the ration : 

15. For laying hens. This is the ration first adopted at the Maine station 
and published and widely adopted as a model ration. 

Parts by 

Dry mash 2 

Wheat bran 

Corn meal , 


Gluten meal or brewer's grains , 

Linseed meal . , 

Beef scrap 

With this mash constantly before them the hens were fed, to each hundred 
hens, early in the morning, 4 quarts of whole corn scattered from six to eight 
inches deep in the litter, and at 10 A.M., 2 quarts of wheat and 2 quarts of oats 
in the litter. 

The dry mash used was a very rich one for any combination, and far too 
rich to be given with such limited hard-grain rations. In the flocks fed on this 
ration at the station and elsewhere cases of indigestion were numerous, and 
the mash has recently been modified. 

1 6. For pullets just off range. Hard grains as above; for the first month 
(September) in the laying house, mash as follows : 

Parts by 

Bran 3 

Corn meal " .. i 

Middlings i 

Meat scrap i 

For the second month (October) : P ar t s by 


Bran 2 

Corn meal . i 

Middlings i 

Gluten meal i 

Meat scrap . . . i 


Green food is supplied in the form of sprouted oats. In succeeding months 
one half part of linseed meal is added to the mash every other month. 

It is reported that better results followed the change in the mash. Judged 
by conditions in general feeding practice, the mash as used in September is a 
better mash for continuous use than those used afterwards, and an increase in 
the amount of hard grain given would be likely to give better average egg 
production, though it might reduce the production of some of the heaviest 
layers. This ration, even as modified, is a very heavy forcing ration. 


1 7. For chicks in indoor brooders. Dry mash of equal parts of bran, corn 
meal, low-grade flour, and middlings, to which is added 5 per cent of beef 
scrap and a teaspoonful of charcoal to the gallon of mash. Mixed grains 
(cracked wheat, cracked corn, pinhead oatmeal), equal parts. Fed in alterna- 
tion, five times a day until chicks are about three weeks old, then three times 
a day until they are about six weeks old, after which they are hopper fed. The 
chicks are given milk to drink as regularly as the supply permits. The milk 
is considered especially valuable in starting the chicks. 

It will be noted that this is a simpler and much less concentrated ration 
than those used at the Maine station. It should give, and apparently does 
give, as good results with less risk and perhaps at a little less cost. Exact com- 
parisons of such points for different rations used by different persons, for dif- 
ferent stock, under different conditions are manifestly impossible. Observation 
of the stock and information supplied incidentally in reports of various experi- 
ments seem to the author to warrant the statements made as to value and cost. 

1 8. For chicks on range (either in brooders or with hens). Same as above, 
but fed in hoppers from the start, with hulled oats and wheat substituted for 
pinhead oatmeal and cracked wheat after the first few weeks. 

The range in this case is an exceptionally good one, orchards, cornfields, 
and pastures being available on the college and station farm of over five hun- 
dred acres. With good range and a mash not overloaded with heavy foods, 
the hopper feeding of chicks has been practiced here for a number of years 
without the occurrence of troubles commonly ascribed to overfeeding. Equally 
good range conditions are found on any large farm and on many small farms. 
With good range the beef scrap is not essential, but at this station it is sup- 
plied, to make sure that there is no lack of animal food. 

19. Summer ration for fowls (yarded]. Dry mash, in hoppers; for old 
hens, wheat bran; for pullets, equal parts bran, low-grade flour, and barley 
chop or meal. Grain fed twice a day, wheat in the morning and wheat and 
barley or corn in the evening, corn being used only when very cheap. 

20. Winter ration for fowls confined to the house. Dry mash as above. 
Morning feed, whole wheat from six to eight inches deep in the litter ; about 
noon, a little more wheat and whole mangels or clover hay; about 3.30 P.M., 
wet mash of boiled vegetables, waste bread, and occasionally kitchen scraps 
thickened with the same meals used in the dry mash, about 10 per cent beef 


scrap or animal meal added, except when green cut bone is given as a separate 
feed ; just before dark, all the whole corn the birds will eat. 

The two rations above used, each in its season, make a good " system " for 
the year. The yards in this case give fair foraging conditions. The winters 
are long and hard. With sufficiency of litter the labor may be reduced by 
bringing all feeding but the mangels and clover into the latter part of the 
afternoon, giving all the wheat at the same time as the whole corn in winter, 
and all the grain at one feeding in summer. 



2 1 . For laying hensl Dry mash : P ar t s by 


Corn meal 3^ 

Bran 5l 

Middlings 3 

Oil meal i 

Beef scrap 2 \ 

Fed in hoppers in constant supply. Grain, whole corn and wheat, in ap- 
proximately equal parts. 

This ration was used in an experiment in feeding six hundred laying hens 
(Leghorns) which returned a net profit of almost exactly one dollar per hen 
($602.28), on a rather low average egg production (113). The hens had free 
range except in bad weather, and for green food had also ensilage, of which 
they consumed about three fourths of a ton. 


22. For young chickens. Dry mash: Parts by 


Corn meal 2 

Shorts 2 - 

Bran 2 

Beef scrap : 

Charcoal \ 

Grain mixture : Parts by 


Corn chop (sifted) * 

Cracked Kafir corn 2 

Cracked wheat 2 

Millet . . . I 

1 Taken from Bulletin 7/5* of the West Virginia Experiment Station. The de- 
scription of the method of feeding in the bulletin does not give the proportions 
of articles used, but gives the total weights of each consumed, from which the 
proportions work out approximately as I give them, a few minor items which do 
not materially affect results being disregarded. 


Dry mash kept before the chicks all the time. Grain fed in litter five times 
a day for the first few days, and after that three times a day. After a few weeks 
whole grains were substituted for the cracked grains. 

The amount of charcoal in the dry mash is excessive, even granted that 
charcoal is necessary; compare 6 per cent of charcoal with the amounts used 
in the Maine 'and Ontario rations. The proportion of beef scrap is greater 
than is advisable. The ration as a whole is reported to give good results, but 
the relative proportions of mash and grain eaten are not noted. With a sufficient 
supply of grain the chicks themselves avoid the danger of the too concentrated 
mash by eating more of the grain mixture (see p. 220). The use of Kafir 
corn in the ration illustrates the adaptation of locally available foods to general 
formulas for feeding. Kafir corn can be grown when and where Indian corn 
cannot, and under such conditions may be the cheaper food. In the eastern feed 
stores Kafir corn is in small supply and at high prices, and under such condi- 
tions is not used by poultry keepers who understand feeding. 

23. For laying hens (confined}. Dry mash : 


Shorts . . .*. . . ... ". . . . ' '. 6 

Bran ............ 4 3 

Corn meal . . . . . .' .'.. 6 

Beef scrap 5 

Alfalfa meal . . . . i 

Grain mixture: Partsby 


Oats . 

Mash fed in hoppers ; grain scattered in litter. Used in the proportions by 
weight of twenty-one pounds of mash to twenty-five pounds of grain, the ration 
has a nutrient ratio of I : 4. 

As fed, this was a heavy forcing ration and gave a large egg yield. The 
report on it is based on a short period, less than a year. The hens were 
forced to eat mash by having the grain cut down until they would eat the 
amount of mash required to make the ration of the nutritive ratio designed. 
The ration is not suitable for breeding stock or for hens intended as layers 
for more than one season, but may often be profitably used with laying stock 
from which it is desired to get the largest possible egg yield in a short time. 


24. Variety ration for young chickens. , 1 First to third day: Bread 
crumbs, 8 pounds ; hard-boiled eggs, 2 pounds ; this mixture moistened slightly 
with sweet skimmed milk and fed five times a day. Finely cracked grain, 

1 Biilletin No. 282, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. 


2 3 I 

wheat, 3 parts; corn, 2 parts; hulled oats, I part, kept before chicks in shal- 
low trays containing a little bran. 

Third to seventh day : For the bread and eggs was gradually substituted a 
well-baked johnnycake (fed twice daily, all that the chicks would eat) made as 
follows: corn meal, 4 pounds; infertile eggs, il pounds (i dozen); sour milk, 
2 pounds ; baking soda, 5 level teaspoons ; grain in litter two or three times 
daily, bran in separate dish. 

One to three weeks: Johnnycake and grain as above; bran, 8 pounds, beef 
scraps, 2 pounds, in place of clear bran. 

Three to six weeks : Grain as above ; one feed of johnnycake daily. During 
the early part of the period the johnnycake was mixed-with equal parts of the 
cracked grain ; gradually the cake was discontinued, and in place of the bran 
and beef scrap dry mash was given : corn meal, 100 pounds ; wheat middlings, 
100 pounds; beef scrap, 100 pounds; wheat bran, 200 pounds; fed in hop- 
pers always accessible. Green food was available at all times. 

25. After the sixth week chicks given the above ration were changed to the 
folio wing fattening ration : a mixture of ground hulled oats, I part (by weight) ; 
corn meal, I part ; ground buckwheat, I part ; moistened with sour milk and 
fed twice daily. Grain in litter (one feeding daily), cracked hulled oats, 
i part ; cracked corn, I part ; cracked wheat, I part. Grit and beef scrap fed 
in hoppers. 

Ration 24 was the most satisfactory of seven rations compared for the 
period, the others being (a] cracked grain and bran ; (b] cracked grain ; (c] 
cracked grain and dry mash ; (</) dry mash ; (e) and (f) wet mash. It is an 
excellent ration, but as good results are usually obtained on a simpler system 
without the changes according to age. The ration given from one to three 
weeks would probably have given as good or better results not only for the 
first six-weeks period but also through the second six-weeks period, when the 
fattening ration 25 was used. The report says that the chicks started on 
ration 24 did not like the change, though some of the others on poorer rations 
during the earlier period ate the fattening ration readily. Ration 24 is a very 
good standard ration, adapted to all ordinary purposes in feeding and quite as 
effective when simplified, as for the first to the third week. As fed during the 
last three weeks it could readily be changed to a moist mash ration by wetting 
the ground grains and feeding the beef scrap separately, or by reducing the 
scrap to about thirty or forty pounds. 

26. Experimental rations for laying hens (pullet year}}- 

(a] Grain mixtures as follows (parts by weight) : 

July 28 to Sept. 8. i cracked corn, i wheat, i oats 

Sept. 9 to Dec. 8. 3 cracked corn, 4 wheat, i oats 

Dec. 9 to Jan. 18. 4 cracked corn, 3 wheat, i oats 

Jan. 19 to Feb. 16. 3 cracked corn, 3 wheat, i oats, i buckwheat 

Feb. 17 to July 27. 4 cracked corn, 3 wheat, i oats 

1 Bulletin No. 249, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. 


Mash: Parts by 


Corn meal > .,_> ,-"->. 2 

Wheat middlings 2 

Wheat bran i 

Beef scrap 2 

Alfalfa meal i 

Grain fed morning and evening in litter. Mash fed wet at noon. 

(b) Same as (a) except mash fed dry in hoppers. 

(<:) The same grain mixture as (a] and (b} morning, noon, and night in litter, 
and beef scrap in hoppers. 

(d} The same grain mixture as (tf), (), and (c) in hoppers, and beef scrap 
in hoppers. 

All lots were given mangels and green cut bone at intervals while closely 

The pullets (White Leghorns) in this experiment were also under observa- 
tion for data on other points than relation of ration to egg production, and were 
subject to some conditions unfavorable to egg production, and so gave a rela- 
tively low egg yield (averages : (a), 121.4; (<*), 129.3; (c\ 110.7; (d\ 107.5); 
but as conditions were uniform, and the stock selected to make the different 
lots strictly comparable, the results are valuable to the student of poultry feed- 
ing. It is at once noted that the highest and the lowest egg yield came from 
hopper-fed hens ; but the high yield came from the lot that, with grain in litter 
(for exercise), had a rich dry mash accessible at all times, insuring full feeding 
and the working off of any surplus of concentrated food, while the low egg yield 
came from a lot kept through a year with only such exercise as full-fed hens 
would take without compulsion. With hens of another type a much lower 
egg yield and higher mortality would result from the use of ration (d). Both 
(a) and (b) are heavy forcing rations, as they were designed to be ; but (b\ 
though carrying a dangerous percentage of beef scrap, gave (conditions con- 
sidered) good results, while (a) gave lower results in egg production, and ex- 
traordinary mortality, due to the high percentage of beef scrap in a wet mash. 
The tendency of the bird to balance its ration and to limit the quantities of 
concentrated food taken is shown in a comparison of the relative proportions 
of mash and grain eaten in rations (a) and (b). The hens fed on the wet mash ate 
a smaller proportion of mash and a larger proportion of hard grain than those 
fed dry mash, appetite warning them against the dangerous food. The con- 
sumption of grit and shell in connection with these rations affords some inter- 
esting data bearing on the question of the use of grit and the attitude of the 
birds toward grit. The hens fed on ration (c) consumed more than twice as 
much grit as those fed on (b) and (d}. The hens fed on (a) consumed about 
40 per cent more grit than those fed on (b] and (d}. The hens fed on (c) con- 
sumed from one fourth to one third more shell than those fed on the other 
rations, and consumed nearly equal amounts of .shell and grit. The differ- 
ences in consumption of grit between (b) and (d\ and in consumption of shell 


between (a\ (b\ and (d) are insignificant. The large consumption of grit by those 
fed on (a) that is, hens among which mortality was high, owing to faulty mash 
is in accord with what has often been observed. The large and equal con- 
sumption of grit and shell by the hens fed on ration (c) is significant. Grit, shell, 
and meat scraps were given them in hoppers. For everything else they had to 
scratch. There is a question as to whether the grit and shell were all consumed 
or a considerable part merely pulled out of the hoppers, as hens are often seen 
to do in expectation of finding something more palatable among the contents 
of the hopper. 

27. Crate-fattening rations, (a) To make yellow flesh : corn meal, 3 parts ; 
red-dog flour, | part, mixed with milk to consistency of cement, (b) For white 
flesh : pearl oat dust, 2 parts ; buckwheat flour, 2 parts ; barley meal, I part ; 
white corn meal, I part, mixed with milk. 

When color of flesh is immaterial, crate fatteners use, as one says, " almost 
anything we can mix." The proportions of ingredients are of less importance 
than the consistency of the food. Many mix the food some hours before feed- 
ing, in order that fermentation may begin before the birds eat it, and so the 
process of digestion be advanced. 


All gallinaceous birds in domestication may be fed on the same rations as 
chickens and fowls on range, the number and times of feeding and the quan- 
tities of food being adapted to the habits of the birds and to the conditions. 
The young of these other kinds are commonly considered more difficult to 
feed and to grow than chickens. This is true only so far as concerns growing 
them under like conditions. Fowls, as we have seen, are, generally speaking, 
thoroughly domesticated, which accounts in part for the fact that the others 
are not ; for as far as fowls, ducks, and geese preempt foraging ground near 
the homestead and its outbuildings, they force the less domestic poultry to 
range farther away and in a measure prevent their complete domestication. 
Instances of all the other gallinaceous poultry becoming as tame as many 
fowls and thriving under the same conditions are numerous enough to indi- 
cate that if they could get, in close contact with man, the range conditions that 
they prefer or need, they would ultimately become very tame. It may reasonably 
be assumed that under such conditions they would gradually become as well 
adapted to conditions of life in closer contact with man as do fowls, ducks, and 
geese. Under existing conditions it is, on the whole, of advantage to man 
that several valuable kinds of poultry prefer to live a little aloof from the 
others and from him, and so utilize food and give such service as they may on 
land outside the range of the others. 

Given conditions adapted to their dispositions and habits of life, the feeding 
of these birds does not differ at all from the feeding of fowls under similar 
conditions. Given conditions which fret them, and feeding them becomes dif- 
ficult, a matter of delicacies and dieting, not because the ordinary food is 


unsuitable to them under normal conditions, but because of the sympathetic rela- 
tion between the nervous and digestive systems. It does not appear that their 
digestive organs are originally and normally less robust than those of fowls, but 
it is plain that in general their nervous systems are more sensitive, and most 
sensitive in infancy, when every part of the organism is most susceptible. For 
that reason the poultry keeper who grows these birds must cater more to their 
natural habits. When he does this, and arranges the feeding accordingly, it is 
found that the same foods may be used for all, and that there is no more need 
of special diets for the young of each of these rarer kinds of poultry than for 
young chickens. 

28. For turkeys on farm range. For the young poults, coarsely ground 
corn mixed with milk (sweet or sour) or baked in a cake and moistened with 
milk. This is gradually mixed with cracked corn until, when the poults are 
about eight weeks old, cracked corn is given clear. Through the summer they 
are fed on this twice a day. In the fall they are fattened on whole corn, fed 
two or three times a day. 

This is the method of many growers in the turkey-growing district in Rhode 
Island and Connecticut. -Some growers feed to both young and old one feed 
daily of dough or mash, as fed to fowls and other poultry. Compare this 
with ration I. The success of this method shows that with suitable foraging 
conditions all that is needed to supplement the natural ration is what heavy 
grain (corn) they will eat. When range is good, many growers do not feed at all 
through the season when insects, especially grasshoppers, are most abundant. 
The fattening of turkeys in the late fall depends largely upon the weather. If the 
weather is seasonable, that is, quite cool in northerly latitudes, less insect 
and vegetable foods are to be secured by foraging, the appetite for heavy food 
is also keener, and the turkeys eat corn freely and fatten well. If the weather 
is warm there is more food available on the range, the appetite is not so sharp, 
they will not eat corn so freely, and it may not be possible to fatten them as 
much as desired. Turkeys do not fatten well in confinement. Some of the 
fattening plants in New England, have tried fattening them in large flocks, like 
geese, but results have not been satisfactory. It is not necessary to multiply 
examples of turkey rations. Any of the rations given to fowls and chickens 
on range may be successfully used for turkeys on range. 

For peafowls. In size and habit these birds are very similar to turkeys, and 
may be reared in the same way. Usually they are found in much smaller 
flocks, a male and one or two females with their young. They forage widely, 
as turkeys do, and small flocks on good range are self-sustaining except in 

For guineas. In the conditions in which they are usually grown, guineas 
need little attention. They may be fed just the same as fowls and chicks on 
range. They prefer to keep away from other poultry much of the time, but 
when they come among fowls, they are very domineering. 

For pheasants. For a long time pheasants were considered especially deli- 
cate, requiring special feeding until well grown. The most successful growers in 


America to-day feed them about the same as chickens. The prepared chick- 
food mixtures are used for them with very satisfactory results. The half-wild 
pheasants protected in the woods in some of the states often come to the farms 
for food, especially in winter, when they sometimes take up their quarters 
with the fowls. At planting time, too, they sometimes become quite as tame 
as fowls. 

For ostriches. In South Africa, where ostrich farming is carried on more 
extensively then in America, the most approved method of feeding is to pasture 
the birds on alfalfa, supplementing this with occasional feeds of corn. For win- 
ter feeding, or when pasture is short, hay, mangels, turnips, melons, etc. are used. 
In feeding habits, ostriches resemble geese (on land) more than they do any other 


29. For ducklings. Corn meal i part, bran 2 parts ; add 5 per cent of beef 
scrap and a little fine grit or coarse gravel ; give an occasional feed of vege- 
tables or green food : feed five times a day until five weeks old, then three 
times a day. Fatten on this, feeding all that the birds will eat. 

This is practically an irregular alternation of standard rations 2 and 3. It 
is the ration used by one of the most successful of the smaller duck growers 
of New England. On comparison of reports it appears to have been as good 
a ration as any of the heavier rations following. One of the largest duck 
growers on Long Island used for years this ration slightly modified by add- 
ing small proportions of ground oats, middlings, or anything available. Such 
additions to a simple standard ration vary the flavor, make it more appetizing, 
induce the birds to eat more heartily, and (probably) add somewhat to its nutri- 
tive quality. When such a ration is fed to ducklings intended to be marketed 
'at about ten weeks, and kept closely confined, the necessary variation for those 
to be grown for stock purposes is made, without altering the proportions of 
the ration given, by simply putting the birds on pasture. 

30. James Rankings duck rations. First food for ducklings, corn meal, i 
part ; bran, 4 parts ; low-grade flour to hold together, 5 per cent of grit or coarse 
sand ; about the third day, add a little beef scrap and (cut) green rye ; feed five 
times a day for a few weeks ; after that feed three times daily and gradually 
substitute meal for bran, until at eight weeks the ration is three fourths meal 
and the beef scrap increased to 10 per cent or more. Describing his fattening 
ration separately, Mr. Rankin has given it as corn meal, 3 parts ; low-grade 
flour, i part ; beef scrap, f part ; green stuff, i part ; fed three times a day, from 
the eighth to the eleventh week. 

Compared with ration 29 this is a lighter ration at the beginning and a 
heavier toward the finish of the period of making green ducks. In remarks 
on ration 29 it was said that it appeared to give as good results as the heavier 
rations. Results by rations 29 and 30 were practically the same. The infer- 
ence is that the flour used in ration 30 at first was sufficient to supply much 
of the deficiency in meal, and that when more meal was added, growth and 


fattening were accelerated, and so results of the two rations for the full period 
were equalized. 

31. For stock ducks (in autumn and early winter}. About equal parts of 
corn meal, wheat bran, and boiled vegetables, with 10 per cent of beef scrap, 
fed morning and evening ; at noon a little cracked corn, wheat, or oats. After 
the birds begin laying, increase the proportions of meal and scrap and add low- 
grade flour, making mash about as follows : meal, I part ; bran, I part ; low- 
grade flour, i part ; vegetables, I part, with from 12 to 15 per cent beef scrap. 

This is practically a standard ration until the ducks are laying, then a very 
heavy ration to keep up condition under the drain of laying. Ducks lay almost 
daily from about January first until about midsummer. 

32. Weber Brothers'' rations. For the first three weeks, corn meal, I part; 
bran, I part ; low-grade flour, i part ; dry bread (ground) and rolled oats, i part ; 
add 5 per cent of beef scrap, a little grit, and a little cut clover or alfalfa or other 
cut green rye. Mix this dry, then moisten with water and mix to a doughy con- 
sistency. Feed five times a day. Water at each feeding. From the third to the 
eighth week the above ration is rnodified to corn meal, i part ; bran, i part ; 
low-grade flour, i part ; green stuff, i part ; beef scrap, i per cent ; fed at first 
four times, then three times, a day. From the eighth to the eleventh week, duck- 
lings for market are fattened on corn meal, 3 parts ; low-grade flour, i part ; 
beef scrap, | part ; about 3 per cent of oyster shells and grit, with occasionally 
a little green stuff. Those saved for breeders are fed corn meal, 3 parts ; bran, 
3 parts ; low-grade flour, 2 parts ; beef scrap, I part ; (root) vegetables, i part ; 
green stuff, i part, with about i per cent of grit, and a little salt ; about once a 
week i per cent of ground charcoal is added. The mash is fed morning and 
evening, about 4 quarts to every 10 large ducks, and when ducks are laying 
heavily, they are given at noon about i pint cracked corn to every 10 ducks. 

The ration as used for the youngest ducks contains a greater variety of 
ingredients, because these growers could get only limited quantities of stale 
bread and of rolled oats at prices which made them economical foods, and it 
was judged best to use these for the youngest ducklings. The regular use of 
grit and shell was necessary with the ration as fed after the eighth week, 
because of the small proportion of bran. Whether it is better to omit bran and 
use grit and shell is doubtful. The period in which this ration was used is not 
long enough to fully develop results of feeding it. The ration fed to stock 
birds is heavier than the standard rations given. 

While it is customary to feed young ducks five or six times a day for the 
first few weeks, it is not certain that there is any advantage in feeding more 
than three times, except when the ducklings get no feed but what is given. 
Ducklings on grass in spring and summer will come on as fast on three meals 
of mash as on five, and will be stronger. For rapid forcing, young ducks may 
be fed meat much more heavily than in any of these rations. They will stand 
for a while a ration nearly one third beef scrap. Whether that is a profitable 
ration has not been fully demonstrated. In feeding small flocks of ducks (up to 
two or three hundred) the author has not found it necessary to give grit 


and shell continuously. In fact, he has never found it necessary except with a 
few feeds at first, and thereafter at rare intervals if ducks showed symptoms 
of leg weakness. 


33. Ration for goslings (on pasture). First day, grass only ; after that, two 
or three feeds daily of mash or scalded cracked corn. If confined to grassless 
yard or on tough grass which they do not relish, feed, with several grain foods 
daily, all the succulent green food that they will eat. 

This ration as given for birds on pasture is that used in the goose-growing 
section of Rhode Island. Compare it with ration i for chicks and ration 28 
for young turkeys. 

34. Fattening rations for goslings. After six weeks, feed corn meal, i part ; 
bran, i part, all that the birds will eat, three times a day. For geese reared on 
pasture, with light feeding of grain until three or four months old, goose 
fatteners use a mash of all corn meal, feeding this for four or five weeks. 

35. Ration for breeding geese (on pasture}. One or two light feeds of grain, 
or a feed of mash and one of grain daily. When pasture is not available, feed 
one mash and one grain feed daily, and supply liberally with vegetables and 
green stuff. 

There is essentially no difference between such rations and those used for 
fowls, ducks, and turkeys. In every case the feeder supplies approximately a 
common standard grain ration, with a little animal food and some green food. 
The birds balance their own rations, as far as quantities permit. Unless the 
food supply is very deficient in some kind of food, they keep in good (if 
not perfect) condition, and soon get in condition after they begin laying. In 
grazing, geese (even more than fowls and ducks) will take the roots of grass 
and many plants after the supply of tops is exhausted. 

36. Swans may be fed the same as geese. Being grown in small numbers 
on ponds and lakes, they are usually left much to themselves. They secure 
food from the water, being very destructive of small fish and other creatures 
found in the water. When such supplies of food are insufficient they may be 
fed grain mashes or stale bread, a most convenient food for them in many cases. 


Incubation the beginning and the end of the common cycle of 
operations in poultry culture. By incubation the bird is produced 
from the egg. For incubation and the perpetuation of its kind the 
bird, according to its sex, produces eggs or contributes to their fer- 
tilization ; and then, in birds of the air, both male and female take 
part in the incubating of the eggs, the substance of which has been 
furnished almost wholly by the female. With poultry in domesti- 
cation, as shown in Chapter 1, the male has no part in incubation, 
and the female may often be relieved of it to the very great 
economic advantage of man ; but, whatever the attitude of the 
poultryman toward the process, incubation is one of his most per- 
plexing problems, affecting and affected by many other important 
problems, and seldom presenting itself in the same form twice in 
succession. From the nature of the subject its proper place in a sys- 
tematic study of poultry culture is doubtful. Equally good reasons 
may be given for beginning and for concluding a detailed descrip- 
tion of a generation of birds with the subject of incubation. But, 
considering the close analogy between the egg of an oviparous 
creature and the seed of a plant, it seems most natural and appro- 
priate to begin a practical study of those details with the egg con- 
sidered simply as material for the purpose, and without regard to 
either its antecedents or its possibilities beyond the mere produc- 
tion of an organism of the kind which produced it. 

The egg. Considered from the point of view just indicated, an 
egg consists of four parts : 

1 . A germ, which is the true egg. 

2. A mass of albumin (the white of the egg), nitrogenous 
matter which the germ, quickened into life, will, as it grows, appro- 
priate to form the substance of the embryonic being. 

3. A supply of food (the yolk of the egg) for the first nourish- 
ment of the young bird after exclusion. 



4. A protective covering which is composed of a double mem- 
brane within a hard shell. 

The germ may be seen, when the egg is broken, as a little white 
speck on the yolk, and always on the upper side of the yolk, which 
position it keeps because the yolk is suspended in the white by two 
albuminous strings, and in whatever position the egg may lie, the 
yolk turns, bringing the germ to the upper side. 

NOTE. An egg as described may be produced by the female bird without 
association with the male. In the ordinary natural course the female on arriv- 
ing at maturity (or at the breeding season) produces eggs which are complete 
for commercial purposes and also, as far as her contribution to the egg goes, 
for breeding purposes ; but the egg will not hatch unless the germ furnished 
by the female has been fertilized by union with the sperm contributed by the 
male at the proper stage of its development, nor will the germ thus fertilized 
produce a creature of sufficient vitality for normal development if the germinal 
elements contributed by the parents are lacking in vitality. Just how far a 
superabundance of vitality contributed by one parent may compensate for a de- 
ficiency in vitality in the contribution of the other is not known. That there is 
a tendency to equalization is often apparent, yet it is just as evident that there 
must be a certain degree of initial vkality in an element before it can unite 
with its opposite sexual element for the production of a new organism. This is 
illustrated best in the case of those hens of great laying capacity which produce 
few or no chicks, their eggs rarely becoming fertile even with every oppor- 
tunity to do so. The fact that a hen can produce, in extraordinary numbers, 
eggs each of which apparently furnishes the material for a chick, though the 
accompanying germ lacks the vitality which would enable it under proper con- 
ditions to utilize that material, indicates that capacity to transmit vitality is more 
restricted than capacity to produce material for the building of new organisms. 
Of like significance in this connection is the fact that, though the male's contri- 
bution to the egg is but a minute quantity of sperm, the capacity of the average 
male to " strongly fertilize " eggs is plainly limited. These points are considered 
more fully in the chapters relating to breeding. Mention is made of them here 
to show that, in the nature of the case, the ordinary lot of eggs used for incu- 
bation is unlikely to be high in " hatchability," which fact must be given due 
consideration in every effort to estimate causes of unsatisfactory hatches. 

A fertile egg. Technically, a fertile egg is an egg which has 
fertilized germs possessed of sufficient vitality to develop so far 
that development can be seen through the shell when the egg, after 
having been incubated for a time, is tested by being held before 
a light in the usual way. Fertility cannot be determined without 
incubation. The amount of incubation necessary to show whether 


an egg is fertile varies with the vitality of the germ, the color and 
texture of the shell of the egg, and the intensity of the light 
before which it is observed. A thin-shelled white egg in a strong 
light may show fertility inside of twenty-four hours. A dark-shelled 
egg, weak in fertility, tested in a poor light, may appear doubtful 
after a week of incubation. Ordinarily tests made at the fifth to the 
seventh day give an experienced operator reliable indications of 
the fertility and vitality of eggs that have been incubated under 
proper conditions. Though not invariable, it is the general rule 
that the fertility of eggs from a mating is quite constant through 
a season ; so that when the degree of fertility of eggs from a 
pen, flock, or stock is once found, it is likely to be maintained for 
some time. 

As a rule, fertility and vitality reach their highest point of com- 
bination at the natural hatching season. Fertility is lowest and 
vitality highest in advance of this season, and fertility highest 
and vitality lowest after it; but numerous special cases furnish 
exceptions to these general conditions. Fertile, hatchable eggs are 
the prime factor in incubation, and a knowledge of the hatching 
properties of the eggs used is absolutely necessary for intelligent 
judgment of other factors when hatches are unsatisfactory. Self- 
evident as this seems when stated, a great deal of work in incuba- 
tion is done without this basic knowledge, the operator working quite 
in the dark. Detailed instructions as to determination of fertility 
are given in the paragraphs relating to the operation of incubators. 

Heat the energetic factor in incubation. Given a hatchable 
egg, the continuous application of a proper degree of heat for 
a definite period of time, varying in different kinds of birds, will 
produce an embryonic bird which, when it has attained the fullest 
possible development within the shell, will break the shell and 
emerge from it. In nature the heat for incubation is usually applied 
by the bird which laid the egg, relieved at intervals, perhaps, by 
its mate. In artificial incubation, oil, coal, gas, and electricity are 
used. The source of heat, however, is immaterial. All that is neces- 
sary is that the proper degree of heat be continuously maintained 
(not absolutely, but approximately) for the required time, under such 
circumstances that atmospheric conditions affecting the develop- 
ment of the embryo within the egg will not be markedly unfavorable. 


The fact that, in natural incubation, eggs seem to hatch equally 
well under very different atmospheric conditions indicates that as 
close adjustments of ventilation and moisture as of heat are not 
required, that within limits (not definitely ascertained) these 
may vary considerably without materially affecting the hatch. The 
normal temperature of fowls is about 106, of other poultry about 
the same. The temperature in natural incubation, therefore, would 
be a few degrees lower, or the temperature at which eggs could be 
kept with a body at about 106, applying heat from one side only. 
The usual temperature of eggs under hens has been found to be 
from 102 to 104, with a mean of 103. 

Antiquity of artificial methods. Artificial incubation has been 
practiced by the Egyptians and Chinese for some thousands of 
years. As developed by these peoples the appliances are crude 
and the success of the process depends largely upon the judgment, 
skill, and careful attention of the operator. Knowledge of the art 
is confined principally to families in which it has been handed 
down from generation to generation. Operations are on an ex- 
tensive scale, and the operator remains with, and sometimes -in, 
the " incubator " continuously throughout a period of incubation. 
Modern artificial incubation as developed in America and Europe 
is on different lines. The constant effort of the occidental inventor 
has been to devise an incubator that might be operated by any one 
anywhere, on any desired scale, and with the least possible per- 
sonal attention. 

The problem in artificial incubation. To maintain a temperature 
of approximately 103, with suitable atmospheric conditions, to 
duplicate, as nearly as possible, in an artificially heated chamber, 
the conditions to which an egg incubated by a bird is subjected, 
is the incubator operator's problem. This problem presents two 
phases. The first of these, the designing and construction of in- 
cubators, is a matter for the inventor and manufacturer, and does 
not directly interest the ordinary student. 

The individual potiltrymans problem in artificial incubation 
is to take a " machine " which, when properly attended, is self- 
regulating for heat, give it the attention requisite for this, and 
adapt ventilation and moisture to local atmospheric conditions. 
To reduce to the minimum the variations in these conditions, the 


incubator is usually placed in a basement room or in a cellar. Under 
the most skillful management, results in artificial incubation are 
likely to be more variable than when eggs of like hatching quality 
are incubated with equal care by natural methods, because the judg- 
ment of a man guided by experience and observation works less 
accurately in such matters than the inclination of the bird guided 
by instinct and sensation. 

Experience and skill count in the operation of incubators, as in 
all things, but the incubator operator has a slightly different prob- 
lem in every machine that he uses, and a new problem in every 
hatch, and a high degree of efficiency in this line of work is only 
attained by careful study of the behavior of machines in the posi- 
tions in which they are placed, and by such close attention to the 
lamp, or other source of heat, that the eggs are never subjected 
to injurious temperatures. 

Value of both methods of incubation. When incubators were 
perfected to the point where temperature was easily controlled, 
there was a general tendency to substitute the artificial for the 
natural method. As it became generally known that, notwithstand- 
ing the progress made, the artificial hatchers had their faults and 
limitations, and still required close attention on the part of the 
operator, this tendency was checked. It is now generally recog- 
nized that the natural method is the better method for the great 
majority of poultry keepers, provided they can get birds to incu- 
bate when they need them, but that whenever the natural method 
is for any reason inadequate, the artificial hatcher must be used. 
On this principle one or more incubators (of suitable capacity) and 
the necessary brooders become a part of the equipment of most 
poultry keepers, to be used in emergencies and for special purposes, 
even though hatching is done mostly by the natural method ; and 
whenever operations are on a large scale, incubators are relied upon 
to do the hatching, the only important exception to this being in 
the colony poultry-farming section of Rhode Island. 


Broodiness. The inclination to incubate is a normal character 
in birds, which in some races and stocks has wholly or partly dis- 
appeared. The length of the period of laying, before broodiness, 


varies greatly. Some hens will become broody after laying only 
six or seven eggs. Usually hens of stock strongly inclined to 
broodiness will lay from one to two dozen eggs before becoming 
broody. In strains or stocks in which the broody habit is present, 
but not strongly established, hens often lay for two, three, or even 
five or six months without becoming broody. As a rule, increased 
egg production is accompanied by decrease in broodiness. Among 
ducks the Pekin and Indian Runner are mostly nonsitters. In geese, 
turkeys, and the less common kinds of poultry broodiness is general. 

Broodiness is shown first in the inclination of the bird to re- 
main on the nest after laying, then by a change of attitude toward 
the keeper, and by a change of voice. Usually birds, unless very 
tame, are shy about being approached on the nest, and leave it if 
molested. The broody bird in most cases becomes bold, sometimes 
vicious, and even if she will not allow herself to be handled on the 
nest, will plainly show as much anger as fear when molested. Hens 
and other gallinaceous poultry, when broody, make a clucking 
noise, which is obviously meant to guide the young and keep them 
from scattering too widely, and when disturbed give a harsh, warn- 
ing cry. Female waterfowl, when broody, give a warning hiss, as 
the male is likely to do at any time when molested. The attitude 
and voice of the bird are surer indications of broodiness than her 
remaining on the nest, for sick birds frequently do that. 

When broody hens are to be used for incubating, it is advisable 
to let them remain for several days on the nests that they have laid 
in, until broodiness becomes confirmed and they have ceased lay- 
ing. The duration of broodiness is not (as is popularly supposed) 
determined or influenced by the time required to incubate the eggs 
of the bird. Unless broodiness is interrupted by a resumption of 
egg production, or she is compelled by exhaustion to leave the 
nest, a bird will remain on eggs until young appear, and may even 
keep for an indefinite time to a nest containing no eggs. 

System in natural incubation. If more than two or three birds 
of any kind are set, arrangements for managing them should be 
systematized. A great deal of the dissatisfaction with natural 
methods of incubation is due to mismanagement. The sitting 
hens should always be separated from the rest of the flock and 
made as secure as possible from disturbing influences of all kinds ; 



yet they should be in a place convenient for the attendant to have 
oversight of them as he goes about his regular work. Most hens 
may be moved from their laying nests to any desired place, if moved 

after dark ; many may be moved 
at any time. But the other kinds 
of poultry usually resent interfer- 
ence of this kind, and will incu- 
bate only in the nests in which 
they have been laying. For this 
reason it is customary, especially 
with turkeys and geese, before 
the birds begin to lay, to place, 
in locations attractive to them, 

nests that will be suitable for 
FIG. 273. End of long row of nests for 

sitting hens them during incubation. An 

empty barrel placed on its side 

in some partly secluded place is often used for both turkeys and 
geese. When the birds insist on making nests for themselves 
the careful keeper furnishes protection (see illustrations, p. 247) 
and, as far as the birds will toler- 
ate it, tries to make them secure 
from molestation. 

From the greater ease of con- 
trolling fowls, and because the 
larger kinds of poultry lay com- 
paratively few eggs even when 
not allowed to incubate those 
produced during their first lay- 
ing period, by far the greater 
number of eggs of all kinds of 
poultry hatched by natural meth- 
ods are hatched under hens. 

FIG. 274. Half-barrel nests for sitting 

hens, out of doors. (Photograph from 

H. de Courcy) 

Nests for sitting hens. Nest boxes should be uniform in pattern 
and size, and should be so constructed that they may be opened 
and closed at will, thus insuring control of the hens. Where the 
number to be set is not large, nests of the pattern shown in Fig. 275 
may be used. When large numbers are set it is better to have them 
made in sections of four and arranged in tiers or banks three or four 


2 45 

sections high. When nests are placed on the ground the earth bot- 
tom should be shaped before putting into it the nest material, partic- 
ular care being taken to remove any small stones that it may contain. 
For nest material. Short, fine hay or straw is preferred for nest 
material, but fine shavings or excelsior may be used. Some poultry 
keepers use tobacco stems, which are objectionable to lice. What- 
ever material is used should be 
shaped and well pressed down 
by hand. If this is carelessly 
done, eggs are likely to be 
broken, and the hen blamed for 

FIG. 275. Nest boxes, made in pairs, for what was none of her fault, 
sitting hens. Inside dimensions : large, Those who have had no expe- 

s // . _/-//., _ o// 11 // , // . , _ ^// 

rience or have been unsuccess- 

16" x 1 6" x 1 8"; small, 12" x 12" x 15' 

ful in shaping nests will find it a good plan, after doing their best, 
to put a few china eggs into the nest and let the hen shape it as 
she sits on these for a day or two. 

Selection of eggs. Eggs to be incubated should be selected with 
care, all that are irregular in shape, defective in shell, or abnormal 
in size being discarded. Leaving out of consideration all other ob- 
jections to the use of such eggs for hatching, their liability to break 
is sufficient reason for not using them. The eggs should be as 
fresh as possible, and should be clean. Eggs three weeks old 
when set may hatch well, but 
the young birds are likely to be 
much less vigorous than those 
from fresh eggs. Little differ- 
ence is noted between chicks 
from eggs ten days or two 
weeks old when set, but it is 
the general opinion that the fresher eggs produce somewhat better 
young. Hatches reported from eggs kept six weeks or more are 
not well authenticated. 

Eggs kept for hatching should not be exposed to either ex- 
treme cold or extreme heat. The best temperature is from 40 to 
50 F. It makes no appreciable difference in what position they are 
placed, nor is it necessary to turn them at intervals ; the position 
does not affect eggs held only a week or two. It is not advisable 

FIG. 276. Same as Fig. 275, with nest 
boxes closed 


to put under the same hen the eggs of birds of different kinds or 
distinctly different types, but it is often advisable to place in the 
same nest eggs from different flocks, yards, or individual hens, 
especially if the hatching qualities of some of the matings are 
known, and it is desired to determine whether, in case of failure 
of other eggs to hatch, the fault is in the eggs or in incubation. 
For such purposes eggs must be marked. In general it is desirable 
that all eggs used for incubation be marked, or that the nests be 
marked to identify eggs set in them. 

Number of eggs placed in a nest. The number of eggs in a setting 
varies according to the size of the bird, the kind of eggs, and the 
season. A medium-sized hen can cover from 9 to 1 5 hens' eggs, 
usually (of average eggs) 1 1 in winter, 1 3 in early spring, and 
1 5 after the weather is settled. The same hen would cover 6 or 7 
turkey eggs, from 9 to 1 1 duck eggs, or 4 or 5 goose eggs. A duck 
will cover about the same number of duck eggs as a hen of like 
weight. Geese and turkeys cover from 12 to 1 5 of their own eggs. 
In warm weather much larger numbers of eggs may be given and 
large hatches secured, 1 but because of the risk of the entire hatch 
being spoiled by a sudden cold snap, big sittings are rarely made 
except from curiosity. Bantams laying eggs larger for their size 
than the large fowls will cover only from 7 to 9 of their own eggs, 
and about the same number of the eggs of pheasants. 

Advantages of keeping hens shut on the nests. Except when 
they are let off to eat and drink, the nests of sitting hens should 
be kept closed. This is necessary, not so much on account of the 
individual hen that may leave her nest too long, as to prevent 
interference and quarreling, with the breakage of eggs and the 
general disturbance that such incidents occasion. If any are rest- 
less they may be kept quiet by darkening the nests with burlap 
curtains, either over the nest or on the windows. Hens that will 
not settle down in a darkened room or nest should be discarded. 

When only a few hens are set in nests on the ground, and it is 
desired to manage them with as little interference as possible, they 
may be let out to feed singly or in pairs, and left to return to the 
nests of their own accord. When large numbers are set in the same 

1 1 have seen a little native hen weighing less than 4 pounds hatch 19 chicks 
from 19 eggs. A Brahma hen set on 27 Leghorn eggs hatched 21 chicks. 



FIG. 277. Turkey's nest in 
cleft rock, covered with 
loose boards for protection 

place it is better to let all out at the same 
time, preferably late in the afternoon, and 
as soon as they have had feed and drink, 
return them at random to the nests. The 
largest average hatches are obtained by not 
letting hens return regularly to the same 
nests. One reason for this is that hens dif- 
fer in temperature, and some are so low in 
temperature that, if they sit on the same 
eggs continuously, they will hatch no chicks, 
or weak chicks. It is possible also that some 
hens do not move their eggs as much as nec- 
essary. It has often 

FIG. 278. Turkey's nest 

with tent-shaped roof as 


been noted that hens that sit closely and are 

always quiet and in the same position on the 

nest do not bring off as good hatches as the 

more energetic and restless hens. 

While the hens are feeding, nests should 

be examined for broken or soiled eggs, and 

attention given to any that are not in order. 

Some poultrymen, hatching on a large scale, 

by natural methods, make banks of nests 

with an alley in the rear and with access to 

the nests from the back as well as from the 

front. When the hens are let off to feed, 
the keeper closes the 

fronts of all the nests and, going into the 
alley, can clean the nests, or give other at- 
tention, without interfering with the hens or 
being annoyed by them. 

Whatever arrangement or system of han- 
dling sitting hens is used, they should be re- 
leased to eat and drink at about the same 
time each day, and at that time nests and 
eggs soiled by broken eggs or by dung should 
be cleaned, for there is nothing more detri- 
mental to incubation than fouled eggs and 
of goose in pasture nests. This trouble may be reduced to the 


minimum by good judgment in the selection of the hens and eggs 
used, by care in making the nests, and by regularity in attention ; 
but under the best of conditions there will be some breakage, and 
occasionally a hen unable to retain her feces through twenty-four 
hours will soil her eggs and nest. 

Food of the sitting hen. Only hard grain should be fed to sitting 
hens. Whole corn seems to suit them best, but any of the ordinary 
grains may be given. Soft foods and wet mashes, which tend to 
cause looseness of the bowels, should be avoided, but a little green 
food may be given as a relish. The grain should be in a hopper, 
trough, or box, and fresh water should be supplied daily. 

Cleanliness. During incubation, and especially if the birds are 
confined to indoor quarters, as they usually must be early in the 
season, and as may be most convenient at any time, cleanliness is 
of the utmost importance. The droppings of the incubating birds 
are likely to have an unusually offensive odor, 1 and if allowed to 
accumulate, to dry, and to be broken up and mixed with the litter 
or earth of the floor, affect the whole atmosphere of the place, 
besides making an earth floor so objectionable that hens will not 
wallow in it and thus keep themselves free from lice. Even when 
the hens have, and avail themselves freely of, the opportunity to 
dust, it is advisable to take precautions to prevent lice from getting a 
start in the nests. The easiest way to do this is to dust hens and 
nests with insect powder when set (or soon after), again about the 
middle of the period of incubation, and a third time just before 
the eggs are picked. If this is done, the birds and nests should be 
almost entirely free from lice when the chicks hatch. When only 
a few hens are set, and the keeper is quick to observe indications 
of the presence of lice and to take steps to check them, routine 
preventive treatment may be omitted. Under other circumstances 
preventive measures are safest and, in the end, more economical. 

Testing eggs. Eggs should be tested about the seventh day of 
incubation. When the work is carefully systematized it is usual to 
set hens always on the same day of the week. Then if the test on 

1 The extraordinary offensive odor of the droppings of sitting hens seems to be 
due in part to their long retention before evacuation and in part to the tendency 
of nature to take advantage of a period of rest from usual activities, to clean up the 
system and rid it of impurities. 


the seventh day shows any considerable proportion of infertile, or 
unhatchable, eggs, the good eggs remaining may be " doubled up " 
and a part of the hens reset with the next lot. A second test is 
usually made about the fourteenth day for the detection and removal 
of dead germs. It is much more important that these should be re- 
moved than that the infertile eggs should be taken away, for the 
composition of the infertile egg is not changed during incubation, 
while the egg containing a dead germ may rapidly decompose, is 
more likely to be broken than an infertile egg or one with a live 
germ, and, if broken in the nest, may spoil the hatch. 

The method of testing eggs in incubation is substantially the 
same as the candling of market eggs, but the work is usually done 
with a little more care. The ordinary incandescent electric light, 
when convenient, makes a most satisfactory tester. An ordinary 
hand lamp or lantern may be used, or if the place in which the 
testing is to be done has a window toward the sun and can be corrl- 
pletely darkened, the eggs may be tested by sunlight by placing 
over this window a shutter, or thick curtain, having in it a hole of 
suitable size (an inch in diameter, or a little larger), before which 
the eggs may be passed. When an artificial light is used it may 
be either placed in a small box with a suitable hole directly before 
the light, or fitted with a metal chimney with a hole on one side. 1 
The egg to be tested is held, large end up, at the hole before the 
light. A strongly fertile egg at the seventh day will appear through 
the tester as in Fig. 294. An infertile egg will be clear, but the 
yolk may throw a light shadow. The apparent density of the egg 
will usually be in proportion to the vitality of the germ, and those 
in which at this time the shadow is relatively faint and the line of 
the air cell not well defined will not usually hatch. Many poultry- 
men leave these doubtful eggs until the second test ; but it is as 
well to discard them at the first test, for the germ that does not 
start well is not likely to produce a strong embryo. 

The average hatchable egg, tested with an ordinary light, shows 
its development only by the increasing density of the shaded por- 
tion, the enlargement of the air cell, and the sharper definition of 
the line between the air cell and the growing embryo. Thin-shelled 
eggs, or any eggs in very strong light, may show more of the detail 

1 See description, p. 171. 


of development. As eggs are usually tested with an ordinary lamp, 
anything noticeable in the shaded portion (as a dark spot, ring, or 
lines) indicates a dead germ, and vacillation of the lower line of the 
air space shows that decomposition is well advanced. By slightly 
turning the egg as held large end up before the light, the condition 
of the contents may be observed ; in the normally developing 
fertile egg they appear solid, in the decaying egg, fluid. 

Period of incubation. The time required for incubation is for 
fowls, 2 1 days ; pheasants, from 22 to 24 days ; turkeys, peafowl, and 
guineas, 28 days ; ostriches, 42 days ; ducks, 28 days ; geese, from 
30 to 35 days ; swans, 35 days, these figures giving the average 
periods for different types of each kind of poultry and for normal 
development. It is noticeable that for the smaller kinds of poultry 
the period of incubation is generally shorter. This is true also of 
different types of the same land of poultry. The eggs of small, 
active birds hatch sooner than those of the larger, more sluggish 
ones. Broody birds of high temperature will (other things being 
equal) hatch the same eggs sooner than will those of lower tempera- 
ture. The young birds hatching long in advance of the normal 
average time are likely to be precocious individuals. Those much 
delayed are likely to lack vitality. As a rule, the best specimens 
are those, which hatch promptly after having taken the full period 
for embryonic development, due allowance being made for differ- 
ences in the type of the bird and in the birds incubating the eggs. 
In fowls a hatch of Leghorns might be complete in twenty days ; 
a hatch of Brahmas under the same conditions show not an egg 
picked at that time. A difference of a day, or even two days, in 
the apparent period of a hatch may occur, either through failure of 
the incubating birds to sit closely on the eggs at the outset, or be- 
cause of partial chilling of the eggs at a later stage of incubation. 
In the first case the vitality of the young birds may not be at all 
affected ; in the other they are likely to be weak. 

Chilling of eggs during incubation. The chilling of eggs cannot 
be wholly avoided. A bird may become sick, or perhaps die on 
the nest, before its condition is discovered ; and occasionally one, 
though to all appearances in good health, quits sitting and stands up 
in the nest. Such a case the novice may at first fail to distinguish 
from the case of the bird that stands up occasionally (especially in 


hot weather) because her eggs are making her uncomfortably warm. 
Unless it is known that eggs have been chilled beyond recovery, 
the damage due to chilling can be ascertained only by continuing 
incubation, and testing after a sufficient time has elapsed to plainly 
show whether development has stopped. In cold weather, eggs left 
by a bird for only ten or fifteen minutes may be fatally chilled, 
while in warm weather a bird may remain off for hours at a time 
without impairing the hatch. An actual chill probably always does 
damage, but circumstances or superior hardiness sometimes save 
the germs in some eggs. Cases have been known of vigorous 
chicks hatching from eggs in nests where most of the germs were 
destroyed by a chill. 

When the eggs begin to hatch. The inclination of the mother is 
to keep the nest until she is ready to leave it with her young. In 
houses where the sitters are under control, it is well now to keep the 
nests closed. The advantage of protecting an outside nest is empha- 
sized at this stage. A nest cover like those shown in Figs. 278 and 
279 can be completely closed by a board in front of the entrance, 
and the sitting bird protected from outside interference at the time 
when it is most dangerous to her brood. If she is in good condition 
it will be no serious hardship for her to go without food and water 
for two or three days, while if she leaves the nest, the air may dry 
the membranes in pipped eggs and there is risk of her crushing 
in the shells as she returns. On all accounts she should be allowed 
to remain quiet. Birds that become too restless and crush their 
eggs should be removed and others substituted, or (if that cannot 
be done) the eggs should be taken away. 

To avoid losses at this stage some poultrymen who hatch mostly 
with hens transfer the eggs to incubators at about the eighteenth 
day, returning the chicks to the hens when dry and ready to begin 
eating. When this is not practicable, and the mother seems likely 
to lose many of the young as they hatch, the eggs may be put (in 
the old-fashioned way) into a flannel-lined box or basket and kept 
in any safe, warm place until they hatch. The nests should be ex- 
amined only to observe in a general way how things are progress- 
ing, and to correct anything going wrong. As a rule, the hen that 
seems to be doing well should be let alone, the hen that is not doing 
well relieved of responsibility. When things are going well, all that 

2 5 2 


is necessary is to remove the empty shells, in order to give more 
room in the nest and to prevent an unhatched egg from being 
" capped " by a shell. 

Helping birds out of the shell. On the principle that the bird 
that has not strength to get out of the shell unassisted is not worth 
keeping, most experienced poultrymen consider it inadvisable to 
help them out. Few, however, rigidly follow this rule. Espe- 
cially in hatching by natural methods, where the eggs are easy to 
get at, the attendant is likely to help out of the shell every chick 

that seems to need help, 
and discard the weak- 
lings later, when re- 
moving the chicks from 
the nests. This saves 
the chick that is held 
in the shell by some- 
thing else than lack of 
strength to make its 
way out under normal 
conditions. Such cases 
occur when the mem- 
branes dry as the chick 
picks around the shell, 
and when the chick 
is " mispresented " and 
picks at the small in- 
stead of the large end of the egg. If the drying of membranes as 
eggs are picked is general, it is a good plan to moisten the nest with 
tepid water, and also, if conditions are very bad, to sprinkle the floor 
of the apartment liberally. Except in such circumstances, it is not 
necessary to moisten eggs in process of incubation by the natural 
method. In removing the shell from a chick which seems to need 
help, the condition of the blood vessels in the membrane should 
be noted. While the blood still circulates in them, nothing should 
be done. The chick will be injured or killed by the bleeding that 
would follow the removal of shell and membrane. 

Conditions of good hatching. Success in hatching by natural 
methods depends on constant and careful attention to every detail 

FIG. 280. Hen with brood of newly hatched chicks 


that may affect results. While the natural method is the only 
one available for those who cannot give an incubator as close 
attention as its heater requires, the poultry keeper who leaves sit- 
ting birds to themselves is taking chances. Under favorable con- 
ditions a single bird sitting by itself may make a good hatch. A 
few birds may do as well if they get along amicably, but good or 
even fair hatches are exceptional under such circumstances. As a 
rule, good results by natural methods are secured only by careful 
selection of eggs and sitters, careful preparation of nests, regular 
attention to the wants of the birds, and prompt correction of any 
condition unfavorably affecting either the germs in the eggs or the 
mothers at hatching time. The natural method of incubation, at 
its season and in its place, is the more economical method, and 
taxes the thought of the operator less than the other, but to get 
full results from it the operator must do his part as faithfully as he 
expects his birds to do theirs. 


Responsibility of the operator. The modern incubator is a clev- 
erly designed, serviceable mechanism, but it has its limitations. Many 
of the troubles of incubator operators are due to overestimates of 
the automatic capacity of incubators, and to the consequent neglect 
of things to which the operator should give his personal attention. 
The most successful operators are those who watch their incubators 
very closely, quite ignoring the manufacturer's claim that the 
machine will do its work with a little attention every twelve hours, 
and that no serious harm will result if the operator happens to 
leave it alone for twenty-four hours. The facts as to this are, as 
the experienced operator has learned, that while an incubator may 
run for weeks without requiring attention except at the regular 
intervals, it may go wrong at any time, and many hatches are lost 
which might have been saved had the operator been on the look- 
out to promptly correct wrong conditions. When operations are on 
a large scale the risk of loss is so great that the wise poultry keeper 
takes no unnecessary chances, but looks after his incubators and 
brooders early, often, and late. In small operations it may not 
seem profitable to give the time to this, and on the actual value of 
the eggs, or of the chicks when hatched, it may not be profitable ; 



FIG. 281. Stone incubator house on plant 
of E. O. Damon, Hanover, Massachusetts 

but considering such points in 
their general relation to his work, 
the poultry keeper will find that 
he cannot afford to leave undone 
anything that it is in his power 
to do in order to hatch, at the 
most favorable season, the young 
stock that he needs. Special 
emphasis has been laid upon 
this point, because economy of 
attention which amounts to neg- 
lect of incubators is the great stumblingblock of the small operator. 

Selection of an incubator. The 
choice of an incubator is a less 
important matter than is com- 
monly supposed. Although there 
are manufactured in America 
over a hundred differently named 
incubators, most of them are imi- 
tations of popular machines, the 
imitation being sometimes infe- 
rior in construction or different 
in some particular, but as often 
equal to, and occasionally an im- 
provement on, the model. It is notorious that some of the best- 
known incubators on the market 
are substantially identical and as 
nearly equal as may be in hatch- 
ing results, the differences in 
hatches of machines of different 
makes being no more noticeable 
than differences in hatches from 
machines of the same make. It 
is not unusual to find poultrymen 
in the same locality preferring dif- 
FIG. 283. Laboratory building at Massa- ferent machines. Even men oper- 

chusetts Agricultural College. Incu- , . , . 

bator room in cellar. (Photograph from atm g m the Same r m > Wlth the 

the college) same eggs, may not agree in their 

FIG. 282. Laboratory building at Mary- 
land Experiment Station. Incubator 
room in basement. (Photograph from 
the station) 


choice of an incubator. Some operators can get good results from 
any machine, others cannot successfully run at the same time 
machines requiring different adjustments. 

With rare exceptions new incubators of all makes will hatch 
fairly well if given sufficient attention, but the cheaper machines 
usually require much closer watching than the higher-priced ones, 
and at best are short-lived. It is generally advisable for a beginner 
to select an incubator popular in his neighborhood, because then he 
may profit more by the experience and suggestions of other oper- 
ators. Hot-air machines are now commonly preferred for indi- 
vidual incubators of ordinary capacity. In the so-called mammoth 
incubator, consisting of a series of egg chambers on the same 
heating system, hot-water heaters are necessarily used. These 
mammoth incubators have the advantages of being more econom- 
ical of fuel, requiring less labor to care for heaters and causing 
less risk of fire, but the regulation of temperature throughout the 
series has not yet 1 been brought sufficiently under automatic con- 
trol to satisfy most operators. 

Manufacturers' directions for operating incubators. The direc- 
tions furnished with an incubator should be followed at first and 
until the operator has a well-defined purpose in departing from 
them. These instructions are not exactly adapted to every situa- 
tion, but afford the best starting point for the operator in deter- 
mining the mode of operation best adapted to his locality. While 
incubators are in the main similar, most of them have some 
minor differences which may affect the mode of operation, and 
it is presumed that the manufacturer's instructions cover these 
points. The manufacturer's instructions usually presuppose cer- 
tain general conditions. They are based on the assumption that 
the incubator will be operated in a dry, well-ventilated cellar 
or room. Such instructions are manifestly inaccurate for an in- 
cubator placed in a damp cellar, where the circulation of air 
is slow though perhaps sufficient to provide oxygen as fast as 
needed, and also inaccurate for machines in an extremely dry 
location. A machine which requires no moisture under average 
conditions may require moisture in a dry place, and in a damp 
location may need more ventilation. A machine which requires 

1 1911. 

2 5 6 


some moisture under ordinary conditions may hatch better with 
no moisture if operated in a damp place, and may require much 

FIG. 284. Cheap incubator cellar; a FIG. 285. Small incubator house. (Pho- 
common type tograph from F. A. P. Coburn) 

more moisture than the manufacturer's instructions call for if 
operated in a very dry place. This topic will be considered further 
in a subsequent paragraph. 

Manufacturers' instructions should be supplemented by such 
further .attention as is necessary to give reasonable assurance that 

FIG. 286. Interior of an incubator cellar equipped with small incubators 


right conditions continue in the intervals between the regular 
hours for attending the incubator. This will depend mostly upon 
the faithfulness and skill with which instructions have been fol- 
lowed, and upon the judgment used in modifying them to suit local 
conditions, but occasionally also upon weather changes. Thus, after 
filling lamps and trimming wicks, many operators return in the 
course of fifteen or twenty minutes to see that lamps are burning 
well. They also take a look at the incubators, noting the temper- 
ature and the condition of the flame whenever they happen to be 

FIG. 287. Interior of incubator cellar at Pittsfield Poultry Farm, Pittsfield, Maine, 

showing one side of a mammoth (Hall) incubator of six-thousand-egg capacity 

(Photograph from Pittsfield Farm) 

near them. In extreme cold weather or in high winds they watch 
the incubators very closely, for it is under such conditions that the 
ordinarily automatic regulator is most likely to become erratic. 

Selection of eggs for artificial incubation. Considering only the 
matter of incubation, selection of eggs need not be as rigid for 
artificial as for natural incubation. When the eggs are to be turned 
in the trays they must be of uniform size or many may be broken 
in turning. When eggs are turned by hand, by shuffling on the 
tray, uniform size is not so essential, although as a rule it is not 
desirable to use those varying much from the average size of 


the lot. Eggs with irregular and defective shells are often hatched 
artificially, when by the natural method they would be likely to 
be broken. Even a cracked egg may be patched with sticking 
plaster, or with a piece of paper gummed over the crack, and 
successfully incubated. The use of ill-formed and defective eggs 
is not advised except in case of scarcity of perfect eggs, when it 
may be better to fill up the incubator with such eggs as are. avail- 
able than to wait until the required number of selected eggs can 
be obtained. The eggs used should be as fresh as possible. It is 
desirable that they be from vigorous stock that is known to be pro- 
ducing strongly fertile eggs, but as a rule the quality of the eggs 
secured for first hatches is doubtful to be determined only by 
the result. 

Preliminary regulation of heat. A new incubator, or one that 
has been out of use for some time, should be run empty for several 
days, no eggs being put into it until it is adjusted to and running 
steadily at 103. It will require several hours to bring the egg 
chamber back to that temperature after cold eggs are placed in it. 
Then the actual process of incubation begins. 

Routine work of incubator operation. The ordinary routine of 
incubator operation is as follows : The lamp is filled once a day, and 
the wick trimmed at that time and also, if it seems necessary, after 
twelve hours. If the lamp is small, or if oil of inferior. quality is used, 
it is better to remove the charred scale from the wick twice a day. 

Turning the eggs is begun on the third day and continued twice 
daily until the eighteenth day (for ducks' eggs, the twenty-fourth 
day), after which the eggs should not be turned. For a long time 
it was the common practice to turn the eggs by placing an inverted 
tray over the tray containing the eggs, and, holding the two trays 
tightly together, turning them so as to place the eggs, turned half 
over, in the new tray. The method now generally preferred is by 
shuffling, which only slightly changes the position of the egg and 
more closely conforms to the conditions in natural incubation. 
Some machines have attachments for turning the eggs without 
removing from the machine, but operators generally prefer to take 
them out. 

Cooling the eggs begins simultaneously with turning. Until the 
seventh day the cooling incident to the removal of the eggs for 


turning is sufficient. After that, at one turning each day they are 
kept out of the machine until cool to the touch, the time ordinarily 
required being from ten to thirty minutes, according to the tempera- 
ture of the room and the development of the embryos, which, as they 
increase in size, retain the heat longer. In warm weather a much 
longer time may be required. Cooling is discontinued at the same 
time as turning. Cooling is sometimes done by simply leaving 
the door of the egg chamber open, but that does not expose the 
eggs uniformly to the air. 

Testing is done at any time from the third or fourth to the 
seventh day, and again from the twelfth to the fourteenth day. 
The object of testing as early as development will show is to 
remove the infertile eggs, which, if taken out early, are salable for 
culinary purposes. 1 At the later tests the eggs containing dead 
germs are removed. 

A record of each hatch is usually kept by the incubator operator, 
either on a card kept on the machine, or in a notebook. In this 
record is noted the number and description of the eggs set, the 
temperature of the egg chamber at regular intervals, the number 
of infertile eggs and dead germs removed at the tests, and any 
irregularities which might affect the hatch. This routine work is 
all simple and essentially mechanical. 

Factors in artificial incubation. To correctly adjust ventilation 
and moisture is the special task in incubator operation. This will 
be found easy or difficult according to whether the operator has 
so placed the machine that its ordinary adjustments suit, or, if it 
is placed otherwise, has used good judgment in estimating in what 
way and how much the conditions vary from conditions in which 
the machine was designed to be operated, and in making the appro- 
priate changes. 

Ventilation and moisture questions in incubation are very 
closely related interdependent. It is claimed for some incu- 
bators that they need no moisture, and for others that the ven- 
tilation in them is automatic. Such claims hold only for the 
average condition to which a machine is adjusted as it leaves the 

1 An infertile egg that has been incubated is stale (the staleness depending 
on the period of incubation) but may be as good as the ordinary run of market 
eggs in hot weather. 


factory. Even for approximately average conditions it is found 
that if the instructions of the manufacturer indicate that moisture 
is to be supplied in uniform quantity, they leave ventilation to be 
regulated by the operator ; and if ventilation is to be constant, 
moisture is to be regulated according to the judgment of the 
operator. These things are generally implied, if not always 
plainly expressed. Though the operator may overlook them at 
first, experience soon shows him what he must do. 

The source of moisture in incubation. The eggs incubated furnish 
the moisture in incubation. An egg is from 60 to 65 per cent 
water and has a porous shell. Exposed to ordinary temperatures, 
the contents of an egg gradually dries up through evaporation of its 
water. The rate and amount of evaporation under incubation may 
be found by weighing the eggs at intervals. Experiments to deter- 
mine this point have been made at several experiment stations. In 
nineteen days of incubation a fertile egg may lose by evaporation 
as much as 1 7 per cent of its original weight ; the least loss re- 
corded in an experiment is 1 1 per cent. On this (11 per cent) 
basis a setting of eggs weighing 26 ounces would lose by evapora- 
tion 2.86 ounces. It is estimated 1 that this amount of moisture, if 
distributed evenly through nineteen days, would be sufficient to 
saturate the air in a nest/<??/r times an hour throughout the entire 
period. In other experiments the percentage of evaporation was 
still higher. Atwood 2 estimates that "one .hundred fertile eggs of 
average size will lose 234.9 grams, or 8.28 ounces, during the first 
five days of incubation ; 341.8 grams, or 12.05 ounces, during the 
next seven days; and 352.8 grams, or 12.44 ounces, during the 
next seven days." 

Use of ventilation. The essential function of ventilation in arti- 
ficial incubation is to remove the moisture and gases exhaled by 
the eggs. In an improperly designed incubator, ventilation might 
be necessary to carry off the fumes of the lamp entering the egg 
chamber. In any incubator, ventilation must provide for the re- 
moval of moisture to allow normal evaporation from the egg. As 
the condition of the egg is affected by the condition of the egg 

. l Day, " Humidity in Relation to Incubation," Bulletin No. 163, Ontario Depart- 
ment of Agriculture. 

2 Bulletin No. 73, West Virginia University Agricultural Experiment Station. 

FIG. 288. Eighteen hours FIG. 289. Second day FIG. 290. Forty hours 

FIG. 291. Third day FIG. 292. Fourth day FIG. 293. Fifth day 

FIG. 294. Fertile egg seen FIG. 295. Fertile egg, FIG. 296. Chick just be- 
through tester, seventh day fourteenth day fore hatching 


(Photographs from E. T. Brown, made by E. C. Hearson, London, England. 
Figs. 288-293 and 296 show contents of egg with shell removed) 




chamber, so the condition of the egg chamber is affected by the 
condition of the apartment in which the incubator is operated. 
Thus the problem of ventilation becomes a matter of the proper 
adjustment of the machine to its atmospheric environment, to secure 
the normal evaporation of the eggs. If the atmosphere of the apart- 
ment is relatively dry, a ventilator of fixed opening may remove 
moisture from the egg chamber too fast, and the air in it will be- 
come so dry that the rate of evaporation from the eggs will be 
too high. Then evaporation could be checked by moistening the 
air (wetting the floor) of the room, by placing moisture pans in 

the egg chamber, or by 
reducing the ventila- 
tor opening. Deficient 
evaporation would be 
remedied, in an incu- 
bator with supplied 
moisture, by removing 
water from the egg 
chamber, by increasing 
the ventilator open- 
ing, or by increasing 
the ventilation and 

reducing the humidity of the air in the room ; in a nonmoisture 
machine the deficiency would be remedied by the two means last 

Measuring ventilation. The standard gauge of ventilation is 
the rate of evaporation in natural incubation. Comparison may be 
made either on a basis of the size of the air cell as observed by 
testing, or by weighing eggs artificially incubated from time to time 
and comparing the loss of weight with the standards experimen- 
tally determined from natural incubation. With suitable scales each 
tray used may be weighed empty and the weight marked on it, 
weighed with the eggs when filled, and afterwards as often as de- 
sired. The data as given for one five-day and two seven-day periods 
are not adapted to this purpose. As it is desirable to discontinue the 
handling of eggs after the eighteenth day, the best arrangement is 
to make the weighings at the close of the sixth, twelfth, and eight- 
eenth days. For six-day periods the loss of weight is approximately 

FIG. 297. Egg just before exclusion and partially 
excluded chick 


ten ounces on each hundred average eggs, and on this basis the 
proper loss of weight for any number of eggs is readily computed. 
It should be understood that the shrinkage in natural incubation is 
not uniform, and that equally good hatches would probably be ob- 
tained on any evaporation between the 1 1 per cent observed at the 
Ontario station and the 1 7 per cent observed at the West Virginia 
station, possibly between wider limits, though it seems improb- 
able that the limit could be moved much farther up or down without 
affecting the result. When it is not convenient to weigh eggs, it is 
advisable (especially for the novice) to run check lots of eggs under 
hens, using two or more hens if possible, that the check may not 
be invalidated by a poor sitter or by accident. A further advantage 
in check hatching with hens is that a right amount of evaporation 
does not necessarily insure a hatch, and that the results from the 
hens afford checks on other points which may need investigation. 

Management of the incubator at hatching time. The excuses 
for disturbing the hen at this time do not apply to the incubator. 
From the time when the eggs are last turned and cooled (on 
the eighteenth day) until the chicks have ceased hatching, it is 
as well to let them alone. The temperature tends to rise at this 
time, and may be allowed to go to 104 or 105, but if it runs 
higher, the flame should be reduced. All chicks that are to hatch 
should be out within twenty-one days (ducks, twenty-eight days) 
from the time of the beginning of incubation, though the eggs of 
large breeds may run a little longer. Eggs that have been run at 
too low a temperature, or have been chilled, are likely to be delayed 
and to give rather weak chicks. Such matters, and any other points 
shown by the record which would affect the hatch, should be given 
consideration in dealing with belated hatches. It is usual to leave 
the young birds in the incubators from twelve to thirty-six hours 
after the conclusion of the hatch. When the incubator is provided 
with a nursery (under the egg tray) the birds are allowed to drop 
into it, where they have more room and leave more room on the 
tray for the late comers. 

Accounting for results. Consideration of results and the causes 
affecting them should be made with some care after the hatch. 
This is as important when the hatch is good as when it is unsat- 
isfactory. When good results are obtained notwithstanding some 


unfavorable condition or irregularity during incubation, it is espe- 
cially important to note carefully the amount of deviation from the 
normal condition or from approved practice. As a rule, occasional 
or moderate variation from prescribed conditions will not materially 
affect results, although a wider deviation, or too many slightly un- 
favorable conditions occurring simultaneously, might cause a poor 
hatch. On this account any noticeable variation from conditions 
which it is designed to maintain throughout the period of incu- 
bation must be regarded as a possible cause of an unsatisfactory 
hatch, and must further be considered a possible cause of mortality 
in the young birds, and perhaps of lack of vitality in those that 
survive to maturity. 

Causes of poor hatches. The causes of poor hatches have been 
indicated in preceding paragraphs, but it is worth while to summarize 
them here and to comment on some points. A fertile egg with 
germs of normal vitality, when incubated naturally, will (barring 
accident) produce in due time a vigorous bird. Failure to do so 
indicates lack of fertility or vitality, or is evidence of neglect or 
accident. It cannot be assumed that, with all conditions and factors 
right, the failure of the embryo to develop is normal. It must be 
assumed that, if all the facts were known, the cause of a poor hatch 
in any case would be plainly apparent. It is not always possible to 
know all the facts, yet in a majority of cases the known facts show 
causes sufficient to account for the results, as will appear if the 
operator, instead of making mental comparisons, will write down 
systematically the conditions of a good hatch, and opposite each 
item note the condition in the hatch under consideration. 

The general causes of poor hatches are (I) poor eggs and (2) 
wrong management. For the quality of the eggs the responsibility 
is with the breeder or, where all operations are in the same hands, 
is to be considered in connection with the subject of breeding. The 
determination of the hatching quality of the eggs is a necessary 
preliminary to consideration of the conditions of incubation. In by 
far the greater number of cases of poor hatches with incubators, 
the quality of the eggs is unknown, the operator having no check 
of any kind on his results. In such cases he is all at sea, and any 
consideration of how points in management may have affected 
results is mere speculation, except when it is known that some 


fault in incubation would have made a good hatch impossible, no 
matter how good the eggs. If it is known that eggs from a certain 
lot are hatching 80 per cent, either under hens or in other incu- 
bators, a much lower hatch in any case is reasonably conclusive 
evidence that the hatch was not properly handled. In such a case 
the experienced operator knows that something went wrong during 
incubation, though he may not know what it was ; 1 the inexpe- 
rienced operator is likely to blame the machine. In a sense it 
may be the fault of the machine, but the operator is responsible 
for the machine. It is his business to know its limitations and to 
see that everything essential to successful incubation is done. 

Common errors in operating incubators. The most prevalent 
faults in the management of incubators are (i) irregular and defi- 
cient attention and (2) poor judgment in ventilation and moisture. 
Errors of the first class are easily corrected if the operator can look 
after the work at frequent intervals, and if he gives his attention 
to it. Errors of the second class are more difficult to overcome. 
They can be definitely ascertained only when other causes of poor 
hatches have been eliminated. They are affected by variations in 
general atmospheric conditions, by the volume of air and the venti- 
lation in the apartment in which the incubators are placed, and by 
the number of incubators in the apartment. The best adjustments 
are soonest found when several incubators of the same make are 
operated at the same time on eggs of the same kind, and slight 
variations in ventilation and moisture are made in the different 

1 The most remarkable case of this kind that I have known was reported to me 
by one of the most successful growers of winter chickens. From two incubators of 
36o-egg capacity, set with eggs from the same lot, he took, on the same day, from 
one machine 299 chicks, from the other a few over 300 (the exact number I do 
not now recall). Three months later he still had the 299 chicks from the first in- 
cubator, but not a single chick of the second lot remained alive. They had died 
at first by the score, then in smaller numbers until all were gone. As far as the 
operator knew, the incubator was run correctly throughout the hatch, but from the 
results (the chicks being brooded under exactly the same conditions) he knew 
that something went wrong. 


Growth a natural process. Organic creatures grow by the con- 
sumption and assimilation of suitable nourishment. Each, according 
to its kind, takes from the food elements with which it comes in 
contact as much of what is serviceable to it as it can secure and use. 
The growth of an organism depends ( I ) on its constitution (organic 
soundness and vitality, which determine its capacity for growth) ; 
(2) on its environment^ (fixed conditions which affect its vital 
functions) ; (3) on the supply oifood; and (4) on protection from its 
natural enemies and from accidents. 

Constitution fundamentally a matter of inheritance. From the 
beginning of its development as an embryo each creature is sub- 
ject to environmental influences. Within the comparatively brief 
period of the development and growth of poultry, environment has 
little power to mend and much power to mar constitution. Under 
normal conditions of incubation a young bird, as it comes from the 
shell, possesses unimpaired the constitution transmitted to it by its 
parents. Any unfavorable condition or circumstance during incu- 
bation tends to destroy the bird's constitution and to diminish its 
vitality. Conditions of incubation under which many eggs fail to 
hatch usually impair the vitality of the birds which do hatch. It 
is only in rare cases that all birds in a brood are perfectly devel- 
oped and apparently of good constitution and vitality. There is 
nearly always a small percentage of weaklings, and often a large 
proportion of birds which, even under the best of care, will never 
make ordinarily good specimens. 

Initial selection. Elimination of weaklings is the first step in the 
profitable management of young poultry. Although under favorable 
conditions nature works steadily to bring constitution, vitality, and 

1 Strictly, environment includes food and protection, but for convenience of 
discussion the division is made as above. The feeding of young poultry is treated 
in detail in the chapters containing the general discussion of the subject. 



every organic function to the normal condition of efficiency, the 
growing period is so short that it is not worth while to attempt to 
work with young birds that are crippled, underdeveloped, or con- 
spicuously lacking in vigor. Unless a bird is lively, bright, and 
strong on its feet when the time comes to take it from the incu- 
bator or the nest, it should be killed at that time. Such birds rarely 
live to marketable age and condition, and the sooner they are put 
out of the way the smaller is the loss on their account. In addi- 
tion, the weak birds easily become the hosts of parasites, and are 
least able to resist disease, while their presence in a flock adds 
greatly to the risk of epidemics. The natural reluctance to destroy 
birds which might live and develop satisfactorily makes many 
poultrymen too lenient in culling at this stage. Those who suc- 
ceed in growing, with an insignificant percentage of loss, poultry 
hatched and reared by the natural method get their results, as a rule, 
by good judgment in separating the weak from the strong birds 
at the earliest opportunity. When the birds have been artificially 
hatched, their appearance at the time of taking from the incu- 
bator is not so reliable an indication of soundness and vitality, for 
troubles due to faulty incubation may not be plainly developed 
at that time. Such, however, can be removed as cases develop. 
Their cases do not affect the first culling. Culling at any time 
in the first few weeks of the life of young poultry is done on the 
principle that the bird that goes wrong at this time is not worth 
keeping longer. 

Preservation of vitality in young poultry. Under natural con- 
ditions, physical and constitutional soundness is easily secured, 
and notable progress may be made even in building up weak 
constitutions. Though not commercially profitable, a little work in 
this line may have great educational value. The improvement of 
weak birds under favorable conditions clearly indicates that when 
strong birds deteriorate, either the conditions or the rations are at 
fault. It is usual to look to the feeding for the cause of trouble, 
but in by far the greater number of cases the cause is to be found in 
the conditions to which the birds are subjected. Unfavorable con- 
ditions have much more serious effects on young poultry than upon 
adults. Though independent of their parents to the extent that 
substitutes for the parents' care are easily provided, the young 


birds are very sensitive to unfavorable conditions, and much more 
susceptible to disease than adults. 

It is commonly said that the first three weeks are the critical 
period in the life of a chick, that the chick which lives to that 
age is likely to live to maturity. That is not a general truth, for at 
later periods there are many losses of chicks which were thrifty in 
early life, but it is true for certain classes of cases, particularly for 
cases of acute disorders directly due to wrong conditions at that 
time or during incubation, and to improper feeding. In the first 
few weeks of the life of young poultry mortality is, as a rule, 
heavier than at any other period, not only because the birds are 
actually more delicate then, but because, during the early part of 
that period, those greatly lacking in vitality, and those affected by 
unfavorable conditions during incubation, or by wrong brooder 
temperature, die or begin to show marked symptoms of disease, 
while it is not until after the second or third week that birds that 
were originally vigorous begin to show the effects of other conditions 
that are radically wrong, especially of wrong feeding. Favorable 
conditions and good management at this time help (sometimes a 
great deal) to remedy troubles originating in the parent stock or in 
incubation. On the other hand, unfavorable conditions and bad 
management at this stage of development will have bad effects and 
often spoil young birds beyond remedy. It is possible by good care 
to grow good birds under unfavorable conditions, but it is doubtful 
whether in any case this can be done at a profit when the value of 
labor is considered. Most poultry keepers who persist (unsuccess- 
fully) in trying to grow poultry under unfavorable conditions fail 
because they either will not or cannot do for the poultry the work 
which the circumstances demand. 

Overcrowding the prime cause of trouble in growing poultry. 
Although other causes may seem more disastrous at times, there is 
no other wrong condition as prevalent as overcrowding. Whatever 
the kind of poultry kept, and whether natural or artificial methods 
of rearing are used, the almost universal tendency is to overcrowd 
the birds both as to the numbers in a specified area and as to the 
continuous use of land for poultry. The remarkable results occa- 
sionally secured under intensive conditions seem to make more 
impression on the average poultry keeper than do the failures 


which are the common experience of those who overcrowd grow- 
ing poultry. One reason for this is that, taking the exceptional in- 
stance as proof that crowding is not itself detrimental, they look 
elsewhere for the cause of their troubles. In cases where crowded 
poultry gave good results a full statement of conditions will invari- 
ably show that other conditions were exceptionally favorable, the 
stock was uncommonly vigorous, the land was fresh, the weather 
was favorable, the keeper was very skillful, and, it may be added, 
very fortunate. The different kinds of poultry differ in capacity to 
withstand the effects of crowding, but in all kinds of poultry it will 
be found the rule that in order to keep the stock up to a high 

FIG. 298. Growing chickens on range at Pittsfield Poultry Farm. (Photograph 
from Pittsfield Farm) 

standard of development, the growing birds require conditions much 
more favorable, and more nearly natural, than those which they 
require when mature. 

What constitutes overcrowding. Overcrowding cannot be pre- 
cisely denned in terms of number of birds and area of coop or 
brooder, or of yard or land. Indoors it is a question of air rather 
than of area ; outdoors, a question of land not polluted by the drop- 
pings of poultry, and free from germs of poultry diseases and from 
poultry parasites which harbor in the soil. In the natural state, and 
under approximately natural conditions in domestication, all kinds 
of poultry are hatched and reared in small groups, or broods. The 

FIG. 299. Cloth shades over brooder- 
house yards at Cornell University 

FIG. 300. Grass range with corn 
grown at the sides for shade 

FIG. 301. Chickens in permanent 
house in old orchard 

FIG. 302. Chickens in colony houses 
in young orchard 

FIG. 303. In the field after the corn FIG. 304. Roosting quarters at Cornell, 
has been cut open on three sides 


(Fics. 299 and 304 are photographs from New York State Agricultural College at 

Cornell University) 



FIG. 305. Six-weeks ducklings at 

Weber Brothers' duck farm. Fruit 

trees just set out in yards 

number of young birds in a single natural brood rarely exceeds ten, 
the number in a group of such broods is rarely greater than twenty- 
five or thirty. The mothers, with their young, forage either in- 
dependently or in groups of two or three broods. The different 

broods usually separate at night, 
if accommodations permit. If 
several mothers with large broods 
sit close together, it will usually 
be found that some of the young 
soon show the effects of crowd- 
ing, especially when they are in 
a small coop or in a corner, and 
when the circulation of the air 
is slow, for the movement of 
the air is slightly, if at all, influ- 
enced by the number of birds at 
the spot, while the condition of the air depends on the number of 
birds breathing it. This is equally true as to the air in a brooder. If 
the mothers are kept separate, or have an opportunity to follow the 
natural inclination to keep the broods separate at night, there is no 
trouble from crowding at that time. 
After the young birds are 
weaned, they will, if left to them- 
selves, keep well distributed. It is a 
common practice at that time, how- 
ever, to combine broods into larger 
groups before putting them into 
new quarters ; from putting too 
many birds into small, ill-ventilated 
coops, and from the tendency of 
the birds to huddle together when 
they are moved to new quarters and 

the natural groups are broken up, this stage of the life of young 
chickens is especially full of troubles due to overcrowding, aggra- 
vated, in many cases, because it comes just at the season when 
weather conditions make crowding most disastrous. 

In the artificial rearing of poultry larger numbers of young 
birds are placed together from the first. The primary object is to 

FIG. 306. Chickens in double piano- 
box house in orchard. (Photograph 
from J. W. Clark) 

FIG. 307. Intensive methods used when plant was established 

FIG. 308. Colony plan adopted after a few years' experience with intensive 
methods ; houses close together, but moved yearly 

FIG. 309. Method now in use ; colonies well scattered and extensive range 


(Photographs from New York State Agricultural College at Cornell University) 




economize the cost of equipment and labor by making the groups as 
large as possible. In a properly heated and ventilated brooder the 
number of young birds may be much larger than in the natural 
group, but must still be small compared with the seeming capacity 
of the compartment. Common experience has taught the neces- 
sity of keeping young poultry of all kinds in comparatively small 
groups, wholly or partly separated, either by partitions or fences 
or by distance. This is the general practice in the communities 
where poultry growing is most flourishing. 

The poultry farmer in Rhode Island keeps his chickens in flocks 
of from twenty-five to thirty-five. The grower of winter chick- 
ens in eastern Massachusetts 

FIG. 310. A part of Fig. 309, 

showing more plainly how the colonies are distributed 

usually keeps them, after weaning, in flocks of fifty. That is the stand- 
ard, though occasionally from seventy-five to one hundred may be 
put into a house large enough to accommodate them. In both cases 
the coops and houses used give small floor space per chicken but are 
open and well ventilated, allowing an abundant supply of fresh air. 
In any coop or house the floor is renovated as often as necessary by 
removing accumulated droppings. If the floor is of earth a part of 
the floor is removed with the droppings, and a new floor of earth 
may be put into the house at regular intervals. If the floor is of 
wood it may be covered with a coating of earth or litter. As long 
as the droppings in the house or coop remain dry, they do no harm. 
Out of doors suitable sanitary conditions are not so easily main- 
tained. It is natural to suppose that if poultry can remain night 
after night on a suitable floor containing the nightly accumulations 


of droppings of perhaps a week or two, their outside run need not 
be very large to give equally good sanitary conditions. Nor need 
it be if the grower can give the birds the care which will compen- 
sate for the lack of the advantages of a range supplying their wants 
in abundance. This cannot be done when poultry growing is on a 
considerable scale or on an economic basis. The yard or range must 
be large enough to furnish green food. A yard that is in grass 
must be of such size, or so stocked, that the grass will keep grow- 
ing and be clean. It is not enough that the grass simply maintain 
itself, tramped down, soiled, and affording no food. In the best 
practice young chickens are put on grassland which has had no 
poultry on it during the preceding season. The grass is mowed 
close when the chickens are put out, and the coops are placed at such 
intervals that the young chickens will, under ordinary conditions, 
keep the grass down just enough to make mowing unnecessary. 
For goslings the practice is much the same, except that it is usual 
to confine them to a limited strip until they have grazed it down, and 
then to move them. Ducklings seem less affected by foul ground 
than other young poultry, but a run on grass, rye, or other young 
grain will make a marked difference in the quantity of ground 
grain consumed, and they will show plainly, both in actions and in 
condition, the advantage of a change from foul to fresh ground. 
Young turkeys, peafowl, guineas, and pheasants all seem to be 
even more affected by foul ground than chickens, but it is a question 
whether, if they were equally docile and contented under restrictions, 
any difference in this respect could be found. 

Overcrowding in most cases unnecessary. The worst cases, both 
in the city and in the country, are found where the ground available 
is more than ample to give the poultry favorable conditions, but is 
not utilized, either from false ideas of economy or from sheer negli- 
gence. Young poultry of the smaller kinds, grown in towns or in 
the suburbs of cities, usually have to be kept in wire-covered runs 
until large enough to be safe from cats. It is no uncommon thing 
to see in one of these runs three or four times as many birds as 
should be in it, and to see the run kept on the same spot for weeks 
and even months, while all around it there is good grass growing 
and going to waste. On farms devoted largely to poultry growing 
it is not unusual to find the young stock grown year after year on 



the same land, though there is abundance of fresh land available. 
A poultry grower ought by all means to consider economy in labor, 
but not at the cost of general deterioration of stock, or of some loss 
of development on every bird grown in a season. When poultry 
of any kind, at any age, are kept on land not suitable for them, while 
better land lies idle or is occupied only by something the poultry 
would not injure, the methods of managing are radically wrong. 

Warmth the first requirement of young poultry. If the young 
birds are kept warm and comfortable they will keep quiet most of 
the time for the first few days. If they are with natural mothers 
it is advisable to keep the mothers on their nests or in a close coop 
in which they will brood the young almost constantly until the 
young birds themselves show a strong disposition to forage. After 
that it is better to confine the mother and give the young liberty, 
with free access to her until they are strong enough to follow her 
without tiring. In most kinds of poultry this will be several weeks. 
Under the usual conditions in domestication, and particularly where 
large numbers are kept, it is advisable to keep natural mothers con- 
fined until the young are weaned. For chickens this will be, in 
spring and summer, five or six weeks ; for ducklings, about three 
weeks ; for goslings with hens, about ten days. The later goslings, 
hatched by the geese, and the young turkeys and other less domes- 
tic kinds of poultry, are usually allowed to run with the adults 
throughout the season. When birds lay only at the breeding 
season, nothing is gained by separating parent and young when 
the young no longer need brooding. 

Brooding temperatures. The temperature in natural brooding is 
the same as for incubation, but it is tempered or reduced by the 
young bird's keeping partly or wholly from under the mother, and 
by the mother bird's taking a half-rising posture. The young may 
remain wholly under the mother at first, but soon begin to sit 
under her with their heads out, thus getting all the warmth that 
contact with her body and that of other young will give, and at 
the same time getting a full supply of fresh air. As they grow 
(or, in very warm weather, while still small) they may not stay 
under her at all at night, but still benefit by proximity to the 
heat of her body. If they become wet or chilled at any time, they 
resort to the natural brooder and are at once in contact with heat 

2 7 6 


of a temperature which quickly warms and dries them. Except for 
what are called (perhaps erroneously) low-temperature l hens, the 
temperature in natural brooding, with suitable-sized broods, is never 
injuriously wrong. The regulation of temperature is automatic and 

nearly perfect. 

Regulation of heat in artificial 
brooding. The operation of a 
brooder presents problems similar 
to the problems of artificial in- 
cubation. The general problem 
is to provide a substitute for the 
FIG. 3 n. Brooder house at Massa- h eat of the parent bird. It is 
chusetts Agricultural College. (Pho- . . 

tograph from the college) economically necessary that this 

be done at a cost for equipment 

and labor that will leave a profit on the work. While it is not 
required that a uniform temperature be as steadily maintained as 
in incubation, the artificial brooder must be in a measure auto- 
matically regulating for temperature, and fresh air must be supplied 
to the young birds in the hover in much larger quantities than to 
the eggs in the egg chamber of the incubator. The difficult point 
is to secure free ventilation while maintaining a sufficiently high 
temperature. This is commonly 
made more difficult in practice 
through the tendency of poultry- 
men to economize capital, space, 
and labor by putting into each 
brooder compartment the largest 
number of chicks or ducklings 

FIG. 312. Brooder house at Goodrich 

Farm, West Duxbury, Massachusetts 

(Photograph from Goodrich Farm) 

that it is considered possible 

to keep in it. To effect sales, 

manufacturers often overrate the capacity of a brooder. The capacity 

of a brooder of fixed size to contain growing birds is obviously 

1 This is one of many points not experimentally determined. The " low-tem- 
perature " fowl seems so to the touch. She lacks vitality and may be sick. She 
may be nervous and irritable, and worry or neglect her young. Her temperature is 
certainly not so far below normal that it alone would seriously affect the young 
birds, but as young birds with such mothers do quite regularly show bad effects, 
it is assumed that this is due to a wrong attitude of the mother toward them, or 
that such a mother draws vitality from her young instead of conserving theirs. 



constantly decreasing, when measured in numbers of birds con- 
tained. The capacity of a brooder is often given (correctly for a 
time) at the number of newly hatched birds that may be kept in 
it ; but the need of reduction of numbers as the birds grow is not 
always sufficiently emphasized. This form of misrepresentation 
is sometimes excused on the ground that at the average rate of 
loss the losses of chicks or ducklings will offset the increase in 
size of those which remain, but there can be no valid excuse for 
instructions that are most misleading when the birds are doing 
best. Experienced growers generally put into individual (heated) 
brooders rated as having a capac- 
ity of from seventy-five to one 
hundred only about half those 
numbers, and into the compart- 
ments of brooder houses they put 
the young birds in lots of about one 
hundred, though for some time 
each compartment might safely 
carry two hundred or more. As 
has been said, under natural con- 
ditions all young birds are pro- 
duced and reared in small groups. FIG. 313. Fireless, or "cold," brooders 

Massing them in large numbers at Provincial Poultry-Breeding Station, 

Edmonton, Alberta. (Photograph from 
the station) 

creates conditions both unfavor- 
able and dangerous to them. In 
exceptional cases a large group may thrive, but as a rule the birds 
do best when kept in lots not many times larger than the natural 
groups. In general practice, brooders and brooder houses are 
adapted to this principle. 

Methods of artificial brooding. There are three general meth- 
ods of providing heat without natural mothers : (i) by fireless, or 
"cold," brooders; (2) by individual brooders, each heated by a 
lamp or a stove ; (3) by a hot- water system arranged to make one 
heater and system of pipes furnish heat to a series of brooding 

Cold brooders are small boxes, usually with a capacity of from 
twenty-five to fifty young chickens, in which the birds keep warm 
through contact and the conservation of the heat from their bodies. 


As commonly constructed, the sides are of wood, paper, or metal, 
with holes for the passage of the birds. The top is composed of 
one or more " quilts " of lightly padded cheesecloth so adjusted that 
the center is depressed and the little birds nestle to it instead of 
crowding into the corners. In a heated room or brooder house, or 
elsewhere in moderate weather, these brooders may work very well, 
but birds in them require close attention at first, and they are not 
adapted to low temperatures. The fireless brooder, as developed to 
date, 1 is not adapted to regular use on an extended scale. Some 
of the so-called fireless brooders are used with a hot- water jug or 
bottle for low temperatures. 

Lamp-heated brooders. Lamps are generally used when poultry 
is grown artificially on a small scale. Lamp brooders are of many 
different makes, but are nearly all built on the same principle. 
They consist of a box heated by an outside lamp, the hot air from 
the lamp being conveyed to the upper part of the interior, and the 
passages for the chicks being small, to prevent a circulation of air 
which would make the temperature too low. In some brooders a 
second compartment, partly heated by the warmer air from the first, 
is provided. Though mostly on the same general model, brooders 
of this type vary somewhat in construction, especially in quality of 
materials, workmanship, and adjustments. With proper attention, 
most of them will give very satisfactory results. As a rule, the 
cheaper brooders require closest attention and involve greatest risk 
of fire. In all lamp brooders the danger from fire is greater than 
with incubators, first, because of the dust raised by the birds, and 
next, because the lamp is more exposed. Somewhat different styles 
of these brooders are made for indoor and for outdoor use, the out- 
door style being built to protect the brooding compartment and 
lamp from the weather. Poultrymen generally prefer to use the 
indoor style in a small house or under a shed. Kerosene lamps are 
most used for heat, but gasoline has been found satisfactory. A 
small system of brooders may be heated from the same reservoir 
of gasoline. The risk and the labor of caring for many lamps tend 
to limit the use of individual brooders. 

Pipe brooder systems. Hot-water heaters and pipes were used 
at an early stage of the development of artificial brooding. In the 

1 1911. 



early brooders of this type the pipes were run under a close hover, 
and the heater used was seldom large enough to maintain the de- 
gree of heat required in extreme cold weather. In such a brooder 
the supply of fresh air under the hover was often inadequate, the 
temperature was likely to run up with a high outside temperature 
and almost certain to go down with low outside temperature, and 
results as was to be expected were very uneven. The defects 
were most serious for the youngest birds but diminished in impor- 
tance as the birds grew, for then they not only required less heat 
but contributed the warmth of their bodies to keep up the tempera- 
ture through a cold spell. To provide for these conditions many 
houses were built with individual brooders (called nursery brooders) 
in one end, for the birds up to three or four weeks old, and a pipe 
brooder system in the other end for the older birds. Methods of 
reenforcing the heat furnished by the pipes were also tried. In 
many houses two heaters had been installed to provide for the 
contingency of accident to the heater in regular use, and in cold 
weather both heaters were used. Supplementary coils of pipe were 
also placed on the wall of the house, usually at the north side but 
sometimes on the south, to keep up the temperature of the house 
outside the hovers. All these things helped. Eventually experi- 
menters worked out the simple plan of using a heating system of 
sufficient capacity to maintain the required temperature under open 
or loosely covered pipes at any season. This is the type of brooder 
now giving the best results for artificial brooding on a large scale. 
It is described in detail in the chapter on poultry houses. It is 
not perfect ; even when equipped with the best-known regulators 
at the heater and with electric regulators on the pipes, it will not 
run reliably without close attention, but of the many different 
methods of brooding chicks in large numbers that have been and 
are being tried this is giving the best results of all those in 
general use. The real test of an appliance or of a method is its 
adaptability to ordinary conditions and to a variety of conditions of 
location and management. Inventors of appliances and promoters 
of methods and systems may test them under the most favorable 
conditions, adjusting everything to suit. Under such circumstances 
good results are often obtained with appliances or by methods 
which in common use are not found satisfactory. 


Temperature in artificial brooding. The best temperature condi- 
tions are secured if it is possible for the young birds to come in 
contact with from 105 to 106 of heat without huddling together, 
and to have any desired lower degree of heat. They may live and 
thrive at a lower range of temperatures. With access to the high- 
est temperatures mentioned, they remain mostly where the tem- 
perature is lower, but have the extra heat if they need it. It is 
customary to take the temperature of a brooder at the level of the 
birds in it, and at that point 95 is considered the right tempera- 
ture ; but if a brooder is so constructed that a chilled chick or 
duckling can find heat greater than 95 only by contact with others, 
the birds, when cold, will huddle together. Provided ventilation is 
sufficient, and the young birds can get to any comfortable lower 
temperature, it is much safer to have the brooder heat at its source 
too high than to take the risk of too low temperatures. Whatever 
style of brooder is used it is essential that the young birds have access 
both to heat in a well-ventilated place and to fresh air at a moderate 
degree of heat. In a properly constructed individual brooder these 
conditions are secured, according to the size and style of the 
brooder and the age of the birds, by the adjustment of the hover 
and the ventilation of the compartment in which it is placed, and 
further (in brooders of more than one compartment) by a down- 
ward gradation of temperatures as compartments remove from the 
source of heat. In the so-called open-pipe system the highest 
temperatures are secured either by placing a movable hover over 
the pipes or by filling the floor with earth, sand, or litter to 
bring the birds nearer the pipes, or by both means. In a compart- 
ment five feet wide a complete range of temperatures from 106 
or over downward may be had by placing a loose cover (with or 
without side fringe, according to the temperature of the house) 
over one half of the pipes, leaving the other half open, the floor 
being raised or lowered to suit the size, of the birds. 

Regulation of temperature in brooders. The proper tempera- 
ture is indicated by the thermometer and by the attitude of the 
birds. The thermometer gives the absolute temperature at a suit- 
able point, showing whether it is sufficient. The attitude of normal, 
healthy birds should show whether the extent of the area of highest 
temperature is sufficient and the ventilation satisfactory. It should 


also show whether there is a uniform gradation of conditions from 
the warmest part of the brooder to a point where the heat does 
not sensibly affect the heat of the apartment. In the old type of 
pipe brooder, with permanent hovers built over the pipes, and close 
fringes to retain the heat, the ventilation in the hover was in- 
sufficient ; the change from inside to outside temperature was too 
abrupt ; there were practically but two conditions (neither perhaps 
satisfactory) between which the birds must choose. If birds huddle 
together at a temperature which an accurate thermometer shows is 
sufficient for normal chicks or ducklings, that is evidence that the 
birds are not normal, that either they are constitutionally of low 
vitality, or that they have been chilled ; if birds huddle outside 
the brooder or at a low temperature, the presumption is that they 
have not access to a temperature high enough to be attractive. 
If exposure was short, and the birds are promptly warmed, the hud- 
dling should last but a short time, and no serious ill effects should 
follow ; if the tendency to huddle becomes chronic, the behavior 
of the birds becomes unreliable for regulation of the brooder. 
If such a lot of birds will not recuperate quickly when separated 
into groups so small that crowding cannot be especially injurious, 
and kept at the usual high temperature at the level of the birds in 
brooding, they may be regarded as injured beyond remedy. Some 
may live to make marketable poultry, but a profit and loss account 
kept with such a lot usually shows a loss. 

As in incubation, the regulation of temperature, while partly 
automatic, requires such oversight that wrong conditions may be 
promptly corrected. The successful growers of large numbers 
of poultry by artificial methods almost live with their birds while 
they require special attention. Regulators and electric alarms 
may be used to relieve them of the necessity of unintermittent 
watching, but they never leave the place without some one to re- 
spond to an alarm, and they make complete rounds of brooders 
before retiring at night and again the first thing in the morning. 
To make sure that the birds will not get so far from the heat that 
they will not find their way back to it when cold, it is usual to keep 
an individual brooder closed until they become familiar with it ; in 
pipe brooder houses it is customary, for the first few days, to con- 
fine them to the space under and near the pipes by means of a board 


across the compartment, gradually increasing the space before the 
pipes by removing the board to a greater distance, until, when the 
birds are thoroughly " hover-broke," it is removed altogether. 

Period of artificial brooding. Under the same circumstances 
and at the same seasons the requirements of the birds are the 
same, regardless of the source of heat ; but, as much of the work 
by artificial methods is done in the fall, winter, and early spring, 
the birds are often kept in the brooders much longer than natural 
mothers would brood them. One of the principal advantages of 
the artificial brooder is that it has no other function than to brood 
young birds, so that they may be kept in it as long as they require 
warmth, while natural mothers (especially early in the season) will 
often wean their broods and resume laying long before the young 
cease to need brooding. Winter chickens are kept in brooders up 
to ten or twelve weeks of ag6, according to the weather and their 
development. Ducklings require supplied heat only from three to 
five weeks, according to the season. 

Protection from enemies. Young birds are absolutely defenseless, 
and, even when constitutionally strong, are physically frail in com- 
parison with most of the creatures with which they come in contact. 
Allowing them to run with larger poultry, whether of their own kind 
or another, is a disadvantage. If allowed to run with other stock, 
considerable numbers may be accidentally killed by being stepped on 
by horses or cattle, or may be destroyed by hogs. Dogs and cats not 
trained to let them alone may be very destructive, and rats even 
more so, while almost every predatory wild animal or bird that 
haunts inhabited districts is destructive to young poultry. The 
smaller the birds, the greater the number of enemies they have to 
fear ; the slower their growth, the longer they require watching 
and protection. Young chickens are hardly safe from persistent, 
hungry cats until six or eight weeks old, while a young Pekin duck 
two or three weeks old would not be likely to be molested, and gos- 
lings would not be troubled after the first few days. Losses among 
larger and quicker growing kinds are often equal to or greater than 
losses among smaller ones, because they roam farther from home 
and are more exposed to attacks of larger wild animals and birds. 

The most effective way of protecting poultry (young or old) 
is by destroying or driving away their enemies. Protection by 


confining the birds does not suit either large operations or the most 
advantageous use of land ; it may be necessary for young poultry 
grown in towns, or even in the country when destructive animals 
are especially bold or numerous, but in general it should be the 
object of the poultry keeper to give, to his young poultry at any 
rate, all the liberty that they need for the most economical man- 
agement of the stock and the best development of the birds, and 
this requires the extermination of wild creatures and the restraint 
of individual domestic animals destructive to poultry. 1 A few of 
these, if not checked, will make such inroads on the stock that the 
immediate loss is heavy, and the effect on the plans of the grower 
is likely to be far more serious. 

Protection from parasites. Freedom from lice and worms is also 
of more importance with young poultry than with adults. Internal 
parasites (worms) are best prevented by keeping the young birds on 
fresh ground and away from the general adult flock. Healthy, vig- 
orous young birds will keep down external parasites (lice), if they are 
given an opportunity to do so. Young chickens, turkeys, etc. which 
have access to loose earth in gardens or fields should need no treat- 
ment for lice. It is a good plan to put hens with broods onto a dry 
earth floor for the first few days, giving them an opportunity to sub- 
due the parasites at the start. In continuous wet weather, when the 
soil will not pulverize, or when chickens are cooped on sod, they 
should be dusted with an insect powder about once a week until 
three weeks old. After that, under conditions at all suitable, there 
should be no occasion for the poultry keeper to consider giving 

1 The problem of the relation of the poultry keeper to neighbors who keep 
dogs and cats which worry or destroy poultry is often a perplexing one. What- 
ever may be his rights, expediency requires that the poultry keeper be governed 
in some measure by near-by public opinion. It is in thickly settled places, es- 
pecially in cities, that this becomes a hard problem. Sometimes the keeping of 
poultry is an infringement on an ordinance which is overlooked by the authorities 
so long as no occasion is given for complaint. In such cases there is nothing for 
the poultryman to do but to securely inclose his young poultry. Where there is 
no prohibition on poultry, the poultry keeper who confines his birds to his own 
premises can insist that owners of cats and dogs which molest his poultry shall 
pay damages and keep the animals off his premises. Even in towns where cats 
and dogs are numerous, most of them are likely to be inoffensive, and if offenders 
are known, a poultry keeper within his rights in keeping poultry, if he approaches 
their owners tactfully, can usually have them restrained without arousing ill feeling 
between neighbors. He should, however, be sure of his case. 


individual treatment for lice. Waterfowl which have access to water 
in quantities sufficient for bathing or swimming are not likely to 
be troubled with external parasites. When young ducklings and 
goslings are brooded with hens and given water only for drinking, 
they are often troubled with head lice. If the water in the drinking 
vessel is deep enough to allow the bird to get the head well under 
water, it will keep the lice off its head and neck in this way ; on 
other parts of the body they are less dangerous, and the bird can 
get at them with its bill. Young poultry hatched and reared, arti- 
ficially are less afflicted by lice, but it is not well to take it for 
granted that incubators and brooders are free from them ; young 
birds in brooders will appreciate opportunities to dust themselves, 
and so make assurance of freedom from the parasites doubly sure. 

Growth proves the materials and work of the poultry grower. 
If the birds grow normally the sum total of factors affecting growth 
must be approximately right, deficiencies being offset by advantages 
in other directions, as faulty conditions by extra attention, slight 
weakness in stock by very favorable conditions, etc. ; if growth is 
not normal, one factor must be radically wrong or several factors 
slightly wrong, and the total of deficiencies so great as to have a 
marked effect on the general result. Normal growth of poultry 
is continuous and rapid ; in the most rapidly growing common 
kinds of poultry geese and the larger breeds of ducks the rate 
of growth is so great that the fact that the birds are growing fast is 
self-evident. In chickens and young turkeys growth is not so notice- 
able, but it is plainly seen by comparing the birds, while small, with 
younger birds, and, after they are weaned, either with younger birds 
or with adults. 

Rate of growth. This has been determined experimentally only 
for chickens and ducklings. Though the number of experiments 
is small, it is probable that, these being apparently average in- 
stances, the figures are very near the ordinary averages and may 
fairly be taken as standards for roughly ascertaining whether the 
rate of growth is normal. 

The rate of growth of chickens of different breeds and types is 
surprisingly uniform for the first ten or twelve weeks. Differences 
between individuals of the same stock are more marked than dif- 
ferences in averages for different breeds. Leghorn chicks from 



FIG. 314. Goslings three or four 
days old 

medium-sized to large Leghorn stock (males weighing 5^ pounds 
and upward, females 4 pounds and upward) will often weigh as 

much at ten or twelve weeks as 
Brahma chicks from parents of 
more' than double the Leghorn 
weights. After that, chicks of the 
larger breeds rapidly outgrow the 
others, growing much faster and 
for a longer period. The ordinary 
young chicken weighs about il 
ounces (rather less than more) 
when twenty-four hours old. At 
three to four weeks it should 
weigh 1. pound ; at six to eight 
weeks, I pound ; at nine to eleven weeks, 2 pounds ; at three 
months a chicken of the medium-weight breeds should weigh from 
2- to 3 pounds, the cockerels 
generally being the heavier birds, 
though the largest pullets will 
often outweigh the average cock- 
erels. From this time birds of 
this class should grow at the 
rate of about I pound a month 
(a little less for smaller speci- 
mens, a little more for larger ones) until from six to eight months 
old, when they should be full grown and of average weight for 

specimens of the kind, in fair 
flesh but not fat. 

In the smaller breeds the period 
of growth is a little shorter, but 
not so much as would be expected, 
considering the rapidity of early 
growth and the size of the birds 
at maturity. In the larger breeds 
growth is very rapid. The best- 
Fic. 3 i6. Goslings nine weeks old growing spe cimens in all breeds 

are usually a little ahead of the others from the start. In Asiatics 
these specimens often begin, about the ninth or tenth week, to grow 

FIG. 315. Goslings three weeks old 



FIG. 317. White Leghorns, thirteen 
weeks old 

very fast. It is not unusual for large specimens to weigh close to 
4 pounds at three months, and to grow at an average rate of over 
2 pounds a month for the next four months, putting on an average 

of over an ounce a day for that 
period. This, however, is much 
better than ordinary growth with 
average stock. For such, i^ 
pounds a month would be good 
growth. Males usually grow both 
a little faster and a little longer 
than females. 

The rate of growth of duck- 
lings is much greater for the first 
three months than that of chick- 
ens. Ordinary Pekin ducklings 
weigh about 2 ounces when hatched. At three to four weeks they 
should weigh I pound ; at six to eight weeks, from 4 to 4 \ pounds ; 
at ten weeks, from 5^ to 6 pounds, the largest and fattest duck- 
lings even more. 1 Unlike young chickens, the ducklings that 
have been well fed are at this stage very fat. Those intended 
for market are killed at from nine to twelve weeks of age. Those 
reserved for breeding purposes continue to grow, but more slowly. 
Usually they lose weight for a while through the loss of their 
"baby fat." At five to six months of age Pekin ducks, when 
well meated but not excessively 
fat, should weigh from 6 to 8 

The rate of growth of geese 
is about the same as that of 
ducks, allowance being made for 
the original difference in size. 
The newly hatched gosling is 
about double the weight of the 
duckling. At ten weeks the gos- 
ling of any of the large breeds or 
their crosses should weigh from 9 to 12 pounds, and at five or 
six months should have added about 50 per cent to this weight. 

1 I have weighed goslings that at three months weighed almost nine pounds. 

FIG. 318. White Wyandottes, fourteen 
weeks old 


Turkeys grow slowly at first. Though of different conformation, 
and perhaps looking much larger, the average turkey chick at ten 
or twelve weeks is often no heavier than a large Brahma cockerel 
of the same age. The later growth of the turkey is more rapid, 
birds at eight or ten months often weighing from 1 5 to 20 pounds. 

In general it is with the growth for the first few months that 
the poultry keeper is most concerned. A large part of the poultry 
grown is disposed of within three months, and (with some differ- 
ences in the management of birds for different purposes) conditions 
and methods that have given normal development up to that time 
can be relied upon to bring the birds to maturity in good form and 
in good season. Young poultry that is below normal at three 
months may be improved by good care and feeding, but will never 
make first-class stock for any purpose. 

Separation of the sexes while growing. Separation of males and 
females at this stage is necessary only with chickens. The time of 
separating them varies according to the precocity of the cockerels. 
In the smaller breeds, like the Leghorn, it is advisable to separate 
the sexes when the chicks are weaned, for soon after that many 
of the males become troublesome. In the Wyandottes, Plymouth 
Rocks, and similar breeds, if the more precocious males are re- 
moved as soon as they begin to domineer over the others and 
among the pullets, the sexes may be left together until they are 
three, four, or five months old. In the Asiatics the sexes may be 
kept together until well grown. 

Separation according to age and size. Of much more importance 
than separation according to sex is separation according to size. 
Especially is this necessary with cockerels intended for exhibition 
or breeding. The cockerels which at maturity will be best are, as 
a rule, not the most precocious. The precocious birds domineer 
over the others, and a cowed bird never develops as he should. 
The best conditions in this respect are usually obtained when the 
chicks are given at the start sufficient coop and land room to last 
until they are well grown, and the culls and inferior birds and the 
quarrelsome males removed as occasion arises, thus reducing the 
numbers so that they are never overcrowded. Only an occasional, 
exceptional lot will then outgrow its quarters, and such cases can 
be taken care of by removing from each overflowed coop a few of 


the poorer birds in it, putting the surplus from several lots into 
new quarters. 

Disturbances should be avoided. With all their docility, poultry 
of all kinds are very sensitive to alarms, to rough treatment, and 
to change. These things affect the growth of young poultry just 
as much as they do the laying and breeding qualities of adults. It 
is especially desirable to avoid frequent separations and new com- 
binations of groups of young birds, with all the confusion incident 
to such changes. While it is preferable that a brood or lot of young 
poultry of any kind keep practically the same quarters and range 
throughout the growing period, that is often impossible. In any 
case the poultry keeper should try to avoid unnecessary shifts: 
Where the numbers are adapted to the land available it should be 
possible to arrange to leave young poultry undisturbed, except for 
removals as mentioned above, from the time when they are weaned 
until they go to the fattening coop or into winter quarters, accord- 
ing to the use to be made of them. 


Egg production distinguished from reproduction. Egg produc- 
tion is a part of the process of reproduction in poultry performed by 
the female, without association with the male, and yielding a product 
immediately useful to man. Hens are generally used for commer- 
cial egg production, the few eggs of other kinds of poultry occa- 
sionally found in the markets or on tables being, as a rule, the 
irregular surplus from flocks kept for breeding. An egg that has 
not been fertilized, or that is deficient in fertility, may be complete 
for man's use for food, or for any of the manufacturing processes 
in which eggs are used. Whether those properties which make 
quality in the egg used as food affect the quality of the chick 
when the egg is incubated has not been determined. Presumably 
they do, but no demonstrations have been made which show it. 
We may profitably use for egg production hens that it is not 
advisable to use for reproduction. Egg production is in a large 
measure, though not wholly or regularly, under the control of the 
poultry keeper, and may be developed to the detriment of the full 
function of reproduction. Subjects so related cannot be wholly 
separated for discussion or study, but as far as possible the treat- 
ment in this chapter will avoid enlargement upon points more 
appropriately considered in the chapters on reproduction. 

Reproductive organs of the female the source of eggs. The 
reproductive system of the female consists of the ovaries, attached 
to the backbone near the middle of the back, and a tube, the ovi- 
duct, leading from the ovaries to the vent. There are two ovaries, 
right and left, but as a rule only one is developed. Singularly, 
the conspicuous function of the ovary is to develop the yolk, the 
part of the egg which contributes nothing to the development of 
the embryo, but is absorbed just before exclusion and affords 
nourishment for the first few days. Each yolk is at first a tiny 
globular granule. After a bird begins to lay, the ovary presents the 



appearance of a mass of yolks of various sizes from full-grown to as 
small as can be seen with the naked eye. A magnifying glass will 
show many still smaller. It is commonly supposed that the number 
of minute yolks is constitutionally and definitely fixed in each bird, 
that a bird cannot lay more than the original number, that it 
will not lay all these unless kept in proper condition, and that, by 
skillful management, a bird may be forced to produce in two or 
three years as many of her predetermined quota of eggs as she 
would naturally produce in six, eight, or more years. It has been 
supposed until recently that the original number of ovules in the 
average hen did not exceed five or six hundred. Observations 
at the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station showed that the 
number which could be counted with the naked eye and a com- 
mon reading glass varied from about fifteen hundred, a number 
several times greater than fhe recorded production of the most 
prolific hens, to more than thirty-six hundred. 

When the reproductive organs of the female bird are function- 
ally active, each ovule, as it reaches maturity, is detached and passes 
into the oviduct. As it passes down the oviduct it is first covered 
with the white, or albumen, which is deposited in layers, and finally 
by the lining membranes and the shell. 

Laying begins when growth ceases. Normally 1 laying begins at 
maturity, but occasionally immature birds, especially of the smaller 
and more prococious breeds, produce a few small eggs. The prema- 
ture activity of the reproductive organs almost invariably results in 
stunted growth and the postponement of the beginning of mature, 
regular laying. Premature laying, though of no advantage, is often 
considered by the poultry keeper an indication of reproductive vigor 

1 The common difficulty in getting eggs from hens in winter, and the tendency 
of other kinds of poultry not to lay until toward spring, seems to contradict this. 
But the number of cases for which the statement holds good is so great as to 
create the presumption that normally egg production in fowls commences immedi- 
ately after growth is accomplished. The fact that wild birds wintering in a tem- 
perate zone do not produce eggs until the following season does not prove that 
under favorable conditions they would not. As the subject is developed in this 
chapter, the reader should note that nearly every factor working against winter 
egg production from hens works more effectively against the winter production 
of eggs by wild land birds ; while, in addition, the unprotected wild bird is more 
exposed to its enemies in the fall and early winter than at any other season. What 
happens in domestication may sometimes be a better index of native tendencies 
than the phenomena of wild life as they appear to the ordinary casual observer. 



and future heavy laying, and so gives him little concern ; retarded 
laying is a matter for serious consideration. Although, as has just 
been stated, laying begins normally with cessation of growth, normal 
cases are in a minority. In a majority of cases laying does not begin 
for some time after the bird is full grown. If the delay is only a few 
weeks it hardly attracts attention, and may be explained either on 
the ground that development was only seemingly complete, or that 
a brief period must elapse after physical growth is completed before 
the period of regular laying can begin. But when laying is retarded 
for several months, as it often is, such explanations will not suffice. 
Causes of retarded laying. The things which affect growth and 
those which affect laying after it has begun are the common causes 
of failure to begin to lay at maturity. Little has been done in the 
line of scientific investigation of the subject, but ordinary observa- 
tion indicates some of these causes, and suggests the need of inves- 
tigation to determine how circumstances affecting the development 
of the body affect the development of the reproductive organs. 
From the commonly observed facts some reasonable general in- 
ferences may be drawn. 

1. A check to growth at any stage may retard laying at 
maturity. Many birds (not only individuals but flocks of all 
sizes) do begin regular laying promptly upon attaining full bodily 
development. When the situation in a stock of birds of the 
same breeding is irregular in this respect, it will usually be found 
that the birds which lay normally are those which have grown 
without interruption, and that when growth has been in any way 
retarded, the beginning of the laying period is retarded. (Appar- 
ently, influences unfavorable to the development of the body are 
still more unfavorable to the development of the reproductive or- 
gans.) It is not unusual to find May-hatched pullets laying earlier 
than their sisters a month older, and equal or superior to the earlier 
pullets in development at the beginning of egg production. The 
difference is explained in most cases by unfavorable weather in 
April and early May. 

2. Any disturbance affecting the habits, nutrition, or comfort 
of a bird at any previous stage of life may retard laying at ma- 
turity. That such disturbances so affect and check laying when 
the reproductive organs are functionally active (or beginning to be) 


has long been observed. Shifting from place to place and chang- 
ing diet are common methods of checking egg production in pullets 
which it is desired to keep from laying in order that they may be 
in better condition for exhibition or for breeding at a later season. 
Recent studies of the reproductive organs of hens at the Maine 
Agricultural Experiment Station show that the development of these 
organs should be regarded as continuous from the earliest stages of 
the growth of the bird, and not, as has been the common view, as a 
part of the general development of the bird until the rest of the 
organism is complete, and then a special growth of the organs of 
reproduction. It has often been observed that pullets just beginning 
or about to begin to lay were more sensitive to disturbances and 
changes than those that had been laying for some time. From this 
it has been generally assumed that at the beginning of functional 
activity the reproductive system of the bird was especially sensi- 
tive, and that prior to that time the reproductive organs were 
not at all sensitive. On this theory the pullets are often handled 
less carefully in early life than as they approach the age when they 
should begin to produce eggs. This subject cannot be discussed 
exhaustively here. So little has it been investigated that knowledge 
of it is at almost every point deficient. It can only be treated in 
its most obvious phases and in general terms. Although much 
relating to it is in doubt, enough is known to show that every con- 
dition and circumstance unfavorable to the growth of the body may 
still more unfavorably affect the development of the organs of repro- 
duction. Every one of the numerous factors unfavorably affecting 
growth must therefore be regarded as likely to affect the reproductive 
system more seriously, and to delay its functional activity far beyond 
the time when growth of the body is complete. This theory explains 
many cases of retarded egg production which otherwise seem inex- 
plicable. Not all cases of retarded egg production are due to such 
remote or indirect causes. In many cases direct causes are found 
sufficient to prevent egg production. But when no direct cause can 
be found, it may reasonably be presumed that there was a remote 
cause (or causes) sufficient to produce the results ; and when it is 
known, as it often is, that growth was retarded or interrupted, the 
cause of that interruption may be considered a sufficient cause for 
failure of egg production to begin promptly when growth ceased. 



Conditions of egg production. Factors in laying may be classed 
as primary (or essential) and secondary (or accidental). 

The prime factor in egg production is activity of the repro- 
ductive organs. 

Secondary factors are (i) nourishment, (2) regularity, (3) com- 
fort, (4) constitution, (5) exercise, (6) cleanliness, (7) broodiness, 
these varying greatly in value, and ranking (as the subsequent 
discussion of factors will show) about in the order named. 

Activity of the reproductive organs may be considered the 
direct cause of egg production. Without it not an egg is produced, 
though every other factor is sufficient ; when it is present, eggs 
may be produced though every other factor is inadequate. It may 
be checked by failure of secondary factors, but as long as it con- 
tinues, eggs are produced even to exhaustion of the body and of 
vitality. If the condition of the reproductive organs of the bird 
could be determined by observation, the poultry keeper might judge, 
with some approach to accuracy, of the time that must elapse before 
a nonlaying bird would begin to lay ; but these organs are con- 
cealed within the body, and the only outward indications of their 
condition are the development and color of the comb, and some- 
times the increased activity of the hen and a " singing " as she 
bustles about. None of these signs, however, are infallible. The 
proof of activity of the reproductive organs is given only in eggs. 
This will appear more clearly as the influences of other factors 
are discussed. 

Nourishment. An ill-nourished bird may produce some eggs, 
but cannot continue producing regularly for long periods. To lay 
well the bird must be mature, well-nourished at the outset, physi- 
cally sound, able to digest much more food than required for its 
own maintenance, and must be fully supplied with food. With 
activity of the reproductive organs and these conditions of nourish- 
ment a bird may continue to lay, though other conditions are faulty ; 
but no advantage in other conditions can long compensate for 
deficiency in the more essential. A common fallacy, now generally 
discarded by students of the subject, makes activity of the repro- 
ductive organs dependent for its beginning as well as for contin- 
uance upon a surplus of food of proper composition. That this 
view is erroneous is evident when, with opportunity to eat all that 


they wish, hens that are not laying eat lightly and keep fat on a 
light ration, and when, as the hens begin to lay, the amount of 
food consumed is greatly increased. This is most apparent with 
old hens that have failed, for a while, to lay under most favorable 
conditions, though stimulated in every possible way. 

Regularity and comfort are so closely associated that they are 
not readily separated for consideration. The general physical con- 
dition of a creature is affected by the regularity or irregularity of 
its life. Effects of irregularities on particular functions may be still 
more marked. The reproductive organs seem especially susceptible 
to such influences. Within limits, the comfort of a creature de- 
pends as much upon its condition as upon the conditions of its 
environment : thus, a debilitated fowl shows that it is uncomfort- 
able on a cool morning, when to robust birds the atmosphere is 
invigorating and excites greater activity, and a bird that is chilled 
cannot keep warm at a temperature comfortable for a bird in per- 
fect health. On the other hand, discomfort often causes irregulari- 
ties : thus, heat which may not prostrate a bird may be debilitat- 
ing, affecting digestion and egg production ; cold which a bird 
withstands without marked physical discomfort may check laying ; 
moving a bird from one pen to an adjacent pen identical with it, 
and with all other conditions remaining the same, often checks 
laying for days and may stop it for a long period. Irregular feed- 
ing unfavorably affects egg production, even though the total 
supply is sufficient and of suitable quality. Disturbances in flocks 
on account of the presence of a strange person or animal, and un- 
usual movements of the attendant, often have an immediate and 
marked effect of decreasing egg production. Individual birds vary 
greatly in susceptibility to such influences, and the difference be- 
tween small, nervous hens, like the Leghorns and Hamburgs, and 
large, phlegmatic hens, like the Asiatics, is pronounced. The facts 
as to the effects on egg production of irregularities of the kinds 
mentioned are accessible to any one who will keep a record of egg 
production and of conditions which may affect it ; they demon- 
strate very clearly the importance of regularity in everything which 
may influence laying. Such regularity, complete at every point, 
is the exception rather than the rule in the management of lay- 
ing stock, nearly every one being careless in some particular. 



NOTE. The principal irregularities affecting egg production, considered in the 
order in which they usually occur in the management of pullets, are as follows : 

(a) The change from summer to winter quarters. Under usual conditions 
it is necessary that such a change should be made. While the ideal way is to 
start pullets as chicks in the quarters that they are to occupy as layers, the fact 
that the old stock, or that part of it which is to be renewed, must usually be 
carried until about the time when the pullets are coming to maturity makes it 
impossible to do this except in a small percentage of cases. The practical ques- 
tion confronting the poultry keeper at this stage is whether it will be more 
profitable for him to keep hens that are likely to lay until November, keeping 
the pullets out in coops that are perhaps overcrowded, or to dispose of the hens 
(losing the profit on their eggs) and give the pullets every advantage. The pre- 
vailing tendency is to keep old hens as long as they lay, or, at any rate, as long 
as possible and still leave time to renovate the houses and get the pullets in 
before winter. While this is the common practice, it accounts for a great deal 
of the poor laying of well-developed pullets in early winter, and experienced 
poultrymen are generally agreed that the pullets ought to be not only in winter 
quarters but settled there and beginning to lay when winter sets in. In the 
latitude of New York this means that pullets so developed as to be likely to 
lay by November should be in winter quarters by the first of October. If the 
winter houses have large yards attached, pullets taken to them from a good 
range may not be much affected by the change. If the yards are small and the 
pullets are thus taken suddenly from a free life to cramped quarters, a serious 
check to laying may be the result. Pullets so advanced that they are likely to 
lay early in October or in September should be put into winter quarters still 
earlier. Though it cannot be positively asserted, it is probable that after the 
frame of the bird is grown (though not filled out) it is better to put it into 
winter quarters than to postpone the change until egg production is (supposed 
to be) about to begin. The advantages of range for a longer period may be 
more than offset by the disadvantages of a general disturbance of life at that 
stage. Apart from effects of changes of quarters, the season is very trying to 
birds with any predisposition to roupy troubles. The nights are growing chill ; 
cold rains are frequent; the weather is sometimes raw and disagreeable for 
days at a time. 

(b) Change of diet. If the birds, when oh range, have secured much food 
by foraging, in the winter quarters they must be supplied with things to fill 
out the ration. It not infrequently happens that weeks elapse before the poultry 
keeper is giving them a full ration. He is not prepared, or has not time to 
properly attend to them. Change of diet and inadequate food, with other 
changes, may easily have more serious effects on laying than are plainly 
discernible at the time. 

(c) Change of ventilation in the house. Most of the coops used for growing 
stock are well ventilated. Many of the houses used for adult stock are not. 
Birds inured to bad ventilation may not be seriously affected by it, but few 
birds will stand a sudden change from well-ventilated to poorly ventilated 


sleeping quarters without developing roupy symptoms, and sometimes the 
most thrifty birds will contract roup in a virulent form under such conditions. 1 
While not as general as it was a few years ago, it is still too much the practice 
to begin, with the first chill and frosty nights, to close poultry houses tight. 
Under no circumstances should a poultry house be closed, more than it has 
been during the summer, before water will freeze in it at a few feet from the 
door. This applies to all kinds of poultry. After such degree of cold is passed, 
windows and doors may be partially closed for birds with large, tender combs, 
but except in the coldest sections this is not necessary, as far as the hens are 
concerned. The open house, for the reasons stated in Chapter IX, usually gives 
the more uniform temperature conditions and insures greater regularity of life. 

Constitution. If pullets are physically and sexually mature, well 
nourished at the outset and well fed, and if irregularities are 
avoided, they should, if they begin to lay about the first of October 
and later, continue to lay steadily, and the rate of production for the 
individual should be as high then as at any time. To a very great 
extent the low averages for flocks at this time result from the pres- 
ence of pullets that are not laying. After a few weeks of laying, 
differences in constitutional vitality begin to become apparent. 
Some birds slow up or stop, and perhaps show loss of weight ; 
others continue the same rate of laying without noticeable loss of 
weight, and perhaps with some gain in weight. .Differences due to 
constitutional vitality are most marked when comparisons can be 
made between selected lots. Unless birds are very deficient in 
vitality, the lack of it need not seriously affect the egg yield dur- 
ing the first winter. Good care and an abundance of stimulating 
food will keep up egg production, though it may shorten the 
productive life of the bird. 

Exercise affects egg production only through its effects on the 
general health and condition of the bird. Hens will lay and lay 
well for many months at a stretch with very little exercise, but 
eventually the lack of exercise will tell. The effects are not in all 
cases the same. Perhaps the most common development is a 
gradual softening and weakening of the entire system, most pro- 
nounced at first in its effects on the digestive system. Under ordi- 
nary feeding hens are likely to lose weight ; under very heavy 

1 It is probable that in such cases the germs of roup are present either in the 
houses or in the birds, which were practically immune under good hygienic con- 
ditions. That is a point not easily determined in ordinary instances of this kind. 


feeding, with little exercise, they may become very fat while still 
laying heavily, a fact that indicates very high digestive power. 
If the birds remain organically sound, improvement of conditions 
with respect to exercise is almost immediately followed by the 
building up of specimens in poor flesh and the reduction of fat in 
others, and by improvement of egg production if that has fallen 
off. If there is any organic weakness it is likely to be devel- 
oped in birds that are out of condition, and may interfere with 
future production. 

Cleanliness, in poultry keeping, is a relative term. It cannot be 
shown on any broad view of the subject, or on any comparison of in- 
stances, that absolute cleanliness, or a condition approximating it, is 
always an advantage. The accumulations of dirt in poultry coops 
and houses come chiefly from the droppings of the birds, more 
or less mixed with earth or sand from the floor, with litter, and 
sometimes with waste food. While this is dry and odorless it is 
apparently harmless. If wet, it heats and molds. The molds which 
form on damp litter are a fertile cause of disease, much more 
dangerous to some fowls than the pollution of their food and water. 
The more thorough the ventilation in a house, the better will be the 
sanitary conditions and the less need of frequent cleaning. The 
best guides to the degree of cleanliness that should be maintained 
are the condition of the birds and the keeper's sense of smell. A 
house should never get so dirty that hens cannot keep their feet, 
their feathers, and the eggs clean. Any offensive odor in a house 
suggests need of a search for its cause and the removal of the 
offensive matter. 

Broodiness is most aptly described as a negative factor in egg 
production. Its characteristic tendency is to limit laying periods 
and thereby reduce the annual output of a bird. 

Duration of laying periods. Broodiness breaks up the laying 
year into a number of short periods, hence the common idea that 
eggs are produced in litters and that, having once commenced 
laying, a hen (or other female bird) will " lay out her litter." While 
in birds which have the broody character broodiness may tend to 
develop as production of eggs ceases, in nonbroody birds production 
is influenced wholly by the other factors mentioned. In the most 
perfect combination of these factors laying is almost continuous, 


though the rate of production may vary. Ordinarily a nonbroody 
hen, having commenced to lay regularly, continues while the com- 
bination of factors (most of which are imperfect) is sufficient to 
maintain production, then stops, and after a period of recuperation, 
begins again, to continue as long as the factors are able to give 
the results. 

Molting and egg production. In all kinds of poultry except fowls, 
and in a large proportion of hens, no eggs are laid during the an- 
nual molt. Normally the molt begins in early summer and requires 
about four months for its completion. Most hens will lay more or 
less during the early stages of the molt, while feathers are dropping 
fast and new ones are growing slowly, but nearly all stop entirely 
when the new coat is growing rapidly. As molting checks laying, 
so laying prolonged into the molting season tends to postpone it. 
This may be an advantage when the birds are not to be used a 
second season, but the advantage is not generally so clear in regard 
to those that are to be kept over. It is a question whether, on the 
whole, anything is gained by hens laying through the entire molt. 
In the case of very heavy layers there is no doubt that in many 
instances the high totals could not be reached if egg production 
were not almost continuous. In many cases of moderate laying, 
results indicate that the total output might be greater if the bird 
did one thing at a time. While always speculating on the phases 
of this problem, the poultry keeper working for egg production 
habitually exerts himself to get eggs in the present, and lets the 
molt and the future laying period come accordingly. Various 
methods of forcing molting are sometimes recommended. Some 
of these, notably the plan of starving for a period and then feeding 
heavily, tend to hasten the shedding of the old coat and the start- 
ing of the new, but there is little evidence to show that anything 
is gained in egg production. Such interference with the course of 
nature would be expected to unfavorably affect the sensitive organs 
of reproduction. The usual experience of those who try the experi- 
ment is that egg production is stopped, but begins again no sooner 
than in birds which perhaps lay several months longer and pass 
through the first stages of the molt more slowly. 

Variability of egg yields. Egg yields are variable both in indi- 
vidtial birds and in flocks. The yields of individuals range from o 



to over 250 by authentic records. Questionable records give still 
higher yields. The annual product of an average good layer is 
about 1 2 or 13 dozen eggs a year. The usual average for flocks of 
several hundred and upward ranges from 9 to 12 dozen per hen, 
10 dozen being considered a good average yield for flocks of several 
hundred. High flock averages indicate general uniformity in laying. 
Low averages under good conditions indicate very unequal laying, 
and either weak stock, bad conditions, or poor selection of stock. 
Selection of stock for laying. Selection of layers is a practically 
continuous process, beginning with the weeding out of markedly 
inferior birds as soon as they are large enough for table use, and 
continued by the regular disposal thereafter of all birds that fail to 
develop, or that, after having developed and perhaps produced for a 
period, go so much out of condition that they seem unlikely to be- 
come profitable producers again. In selecting laying stock on this 
principle the standard used is the well-developed, vigorous individual 
bird. With occasional exceptions, due apparently to ovarian trouble, 
the best-developed and best-looking l pullets in a flock prove to be 
the best layers. The undeveloped, slow developing, and least attrac- 
tive birds are usually distinctly inferior to the others, especially in 
comparisons of yields for long periods. The relative proportions 
of good, medium, and poor birds selected in this way varies greatly. 
In well-bred, well-grown stock the proportion of pullets which 
should be discarded at or before maturity ought not to exceed 
one in eight or ten, and of the remainder the extra choice and 
ordinary birds should be about equally divided. After the culling 
out of the inferior I o per cent or 1 2 per cent, the general average 
production of such a flock of pullets, under good conditions and 
management, should be good, with the production of the better half 
of the flock averaging one or two dozen eggs per hen more than 
that of the poorer half. The better half of the flock should also 
show the lower mortality and the smaller percentage of birds going 
out of condition. If the stock is indifferently well bred and has not 
been well managed, the proportion that are likely to prove profitable 

1 Not necessarily the best looking to a fancier who has been educated to 
judge by artificial standards, but the birds in the flock which the ordinary per- 
son with an appreciation of beauty due to physical development and 'condition 
would consider most attractive. 



layers may be very small. Special points in selecting layers will be 
treated in connection with the selection of breeding stock to pro- 
duce layers. Systems for selecting layers, based usually on phys- 
ical measurements, are unreliable. The trap nest and individual 
record are necessary to select the individual producers with cer- 
tainty, but such methods are too expensive to be profitably used 
with laying stock. Judicious selection on general appearance will 
eliminate most of the poor producers. It is usually cheaper to 
feed any that this method overlooks than to go to the expense of 
identifying them. 

Effect of age on production. Age and egg production are not 
directly correlated, though they often seem to be. General com- 
parisons of records of pullets with older hens, and of records of the 
same flock of birds through several years, indicate production at its 
highest during the first year, and so rapidly diminishing that only a 
small proportion of hens continue profitable layers after the second 
year (for the heavier breeds) or third year (for the lighter breeds). 
Instances of flocks, as well as individuals, furnishing exceptions to 
the general condition are, however, numerous enough to show that 
production depends primarily upon constitution and condition, and 
upon age only as age affects condition through the cumulative 
effects of unfavorable influences and the natural diminution of 
vitality. As a rule, only about half the pullets selected for layers 
at maturity will pass as rigid a test of condition a year later, and 
not more than one fourth of a third of those reserved for a second 
winter will pass a third examination. At three years of age, and 
even older, hens in good condition may be more valuable for egg 
production than the poorer pullets. 



Fattening a finishing process. Poultry in the best condition for 
laying or breeding is not in the best condition for market and con- 
sumption. For poultry of any quality -that is at all fit for food there 
is a market. Inferior poultry will usually sell at its full value as 
compared with other meats, often at more than its relative value ; 
but such poultry commands no premium, and yields little profit to 
the producer. If the amount is small and it has cost him little, he 
may sell it at small profit, or even at some loss, without appreciat- 
ing how much less he is realizing on it than he would if the qual- 
ity were better. When larger quantities are handled, and cost and 
selling prices are compared, the advantage of growing and finish- 
ing poultry to suit the requirements of the best trade cannot escape 
the poultry keeper's attention. 

Fattening improves both appearance and quality. A thin bird 
is not at all attractive when dressed ; the flesh appears shrunken 
and hard, the bones prominent, the skin thin and more or less 
shriveled. When cooked, the meat of such a bird is dry and tough 
unless the bird is quite young. A bird that is muscularly well de- 
veloped (meaty but not fat) is much more attractive in appearance 
and much better eating. A fat bird is still better in appearance and 
better eating. To this point the majority of consumers' tastes 
agree; beyond it, opinions differ. Only a small proportion of con- 
sumers care for very fat poultry, and in America there is practically 
no demand for such excessively fat poultry as is produced in some 
parts of Europe. 

Common practice as to fattening. By far the greater part of the 
poultry produced in America is turned off by the producer in an 
unfinished state. The young birds grown on farms are usually dis- 
posed of when they have reached marketable size, or at the end 
of the season, in whatever condition they happen to be. Turkeys 
and geese sold for the holiday season are generally given better 


3 02 


preparation than at other times, or than other farm poultry get, but 
even of these, enormous quantities of unfinished birds are put on 
the market. Of birds, particularly chickens, grown under intensive 
conditions, the good specimens are usually much better finished 
than those from the farms ; the poorer ones are much inferior, 
not only thin but unthrifty or unhealthy looking. As a rule, only 
those poultry keepers producing especially for the table (and by no 
means all of these) make any well-directed efforts to put poultry on 
the market in first-class shape. Among all classes of poultry keep- 
ers, however, conditions in this respect are gradually improving. 

What has been said so far applies to young poultry. Much of 
the old poultry marketed is overfat, perhaps best described as acci- 
dentally and improperly fattened. A great deal of it is poultry that 
should have been marketed weeks, months, or even years before, 
and would have been if the owners had systematically disposed of 
their birds as they became unprofitable. Such poultry, though fat, 
is not finished, in the proper sense of the term. The fat on it is 
usually not well distributed, detracts from rather than adds to the 
appearance, and is distinctly inferior in flavor to the fat on a freshly 
finished bird. 

Simple methods of fattening. Ordinary fattening is accom- 
plished by modifications of ordinary feeding conditions and meth- 
ods. As already stated, the mere change of the conditions of 
feeding by stopping exercise may result in a quite rapid accumula- 
tion of fat, though no change is made in the ration. Increase of 
the proportion of fattening foods in the ration, the birds still taking 
exercise, also tends to make fat. Increase of fattening foods with 
restriction on exercise usually causes very rapid fattening, the rate 
and amount of fattening being governed very largely by the close- 
ness of confinement and the proportion of fat-producing elements in 
the food, and limited by the capacity of the bird to continue to digest 
food and to accumulate fat under conditions tending to exhaust 
vital powers. Finishing in this way is a simple process and (if the 
birds have been properly grown up to the finishing stage) so effec- 
tive that there is no excuse for putting thrifty young poultry of any 
kind on the market in poor condition. All that is necessary is that 
birds to be marketed should be separated from the others a few 
weeks before (instead of at) the time when they are to be disposed 



of, and that in the interval they should be kept more closely con- 
fined and fed almost entirely on corn in the form most appropriate 
to the circumstances and to the kind of poultry to be fattened. 
The objection to corn as a fattening food in countries where white 
fat and skin are desired does not apply in this country, where yel- 
low 1 fat and skin are preferred. On the South Shore soft-roaster 
plants, where most of the chickens grown are destined for market, 
the practice is (after weaning) to keep a fattening ration before them 
at all times, yet at the same time to allow them all the range that 
they want. The ranges used are heavily stocked, but the birds used, 
being naturally inclined to put on fat, and being full fed, do not 
go far in search of food. With every opportunity to exercise, they 
take only enough to keep them in condition, carry at any age 
more fat than most well-conditioned chickens, and, as they com- 
plete their growth, become as fat, without other special treatment, 
as any American trade requires. 

Where the principal thing is to grow good stock birds, and only 
a part of the poultry is to be finished at one time, the birds to be 
finished should be penned up for from ten days to four or five 
weeks, according to their condition and the demand to be met. 

Broilers to be killed at from two to two and one half pounds 
should be taken at about one pound weight (if the chickens have 
been on range) and put into small yards or indoor pens. They 
should not be too closely crowded, one bird to about every 5 feet 
of yard room or from 2\ to 3 feet of inside room. The feed at 
first should be the growing ration they have had, all they will eat. 
Gradually the proportions of corn and meat elements should be 
increased, until, in the last week before they are to be killed, the 
most fattening rations mentioned may be given. 

Fryers may be handled in the same way, being taken from the 
range at from one to one and one half pounds below the weight at 

1 Europeans accustomed to (and preferring) white skin and fat in their poultry 
consider yellow fat strong and not so fine in flavor. Some American writers, 
assuming that the European taste is more highly cultivated, echo this opinion. 
American consumers generally prefer the yellow fowls. Custom and prejudice give 
rise to the preference. Imagination and occasional instances that fit the theory 
confirm both ideas. It is no more possible for a blindfold person to know whether 
the chicken that he is eating has yellow or white skin than whether the eggs in his 
pudding had white or brown shells. 



which they are to be killed, and being allowed one week for each 
half pound of weight to be added. Many birds can be carried much 
longer in this way, always in marketable condition and steadily 
gaining in growth ; but, as a proportion will usually begin to go 
off in condition after three or four weeks, it is better not to under- 
take to carry them in this way too long. In such matters as this 
the poultry keeper must be governed by conditions as they arise. 

Roasters are usually well grown before being finished or fattened. 
Chickens approaching maturity in good condition may be fattened, 
as much as required, in two or three weeks' yard feeding of ordi- 
nary rations containing half corn ; by confining more closely and 
feeding on corn exclusively, they may be brought to the required 
degree of finish in a week or ten days. Fattening is hastened by 
darkening the quarters in which the birds are kept. For a week or 
ten days, birds of this age being fattened in this way may be kept 
in rooms from which the light is excluded except for two or three 
periods of from fifteen to twenty minutes each daily, when it is 
admitted, that they may see to eat. Under such conditions they 
put on fat very rapidly. 

Fowls of both sexes past profitable use as producers should be 
sold at once if fat. If in good condition, not fat, they may be fin- 
ished by close confinement and heavy feeding for a short period, 
as just described for roasters. If in poor flesh and requiring longer 
feeding, it is better to treat them for several weeks as described for 
broilers, and then to finish as above in close confinement. 

Ducks to be sold as green dticks are handled in general by the 
same methods as broilers, the fattening periods for these two kinds 
of poultry corresponding closely. Ducklings (see rations, p. 235) 
will stand without injury much heavier feeding than any other 
young poultry. As they grow rapidly, so they fatten easily. Indeed, 
well-fed ducklings are fat at any time, and with a liberal fattening 
ration become very fat as the frame stops growing. 

Older ducks (both the young birds held until maturity for table 
use and those no longer required for production) are easily fattened 
in confinement by heavy feeding not much different from the 
usual ration at first and gradually changed until, for about a week 
before killing, they are fed on the same ration as that used for 
finishing ducklings. The length of the finishing period must be 



determined by the condition of the birds at the start and by the rate 
of increase of fat. 

Geese to be sold as green geese are handled in much the same 
way as green ducks, but as goslings require relatively more bulky 
green food while growing, the change to the full fattening ration 
should be made more gradually, and such birds as show signs of 
breaking down (weakness of legs) should be disposed of at once. 

Older geese are easily fattened, either by liberal feeding of whole 
or cracked corn with grass pasture (good, but not too extended), or 
by feeding a standard mash once a day and corn once a day. There 
is less need of very heavy feeding with the older geese than with 
the green geese. For the latter it is desirable to have the birds 
finished as soon as possible after the frame is grown, and before 
the last adolescent molt. The finishing period is therefore short, 
and rations of the highest efficiency must be used, even at extra 
risks. For the older birds more time can be taken. As they will 
keep in good condition on pasture, the keeper who has pasture can 
extend the finishing period as much as he sees fit, and make the 
fattening a slow process. 

Turkeys, being of a roving disposition (the young especially being 
likely to fret in confinement), are less easily finished for market 
than geese. As most flocks of turkeys are handled on farms, the 
fattening depends much on conditions not under the keeper's con- 
trol. As the supply of food to be secured by foraging diminishes 
in the fall, they are tempted to keep nearer home by more liberal 
feeding there. If the weather is seasonable that is, rather cool 
their appetites are sharpened, and if well fed, they increase 
rapidly in size and at the same time put on fat. Their condition 
at the time for killing for the Thanksgiving trade depends much 
upon the weather during the two months, and especially the few 
weeks, preceding. Unseasonably warm weather is unfavorable to 
finishing. Whole corn fed freely two or three times a day is the 
usual fattening ration, old and young being fed together. Mash, 
or dough, is sometimes given once a day to hasten the process. 

Causes of failures in finishing by ordinary methods. It is usual 
to attribute poor results to the inefficiency of the ration. They are 
more likely to be due (i) to the condition of the birds, (2) to condi- 
tions unsatisfactory for the process, or (3) to constitutional tendency. 


Birds of low vitality and weak digestion are difficult to fatten, as 
they are to develop in any way. Fattening such birds is, if any- 
thing, more difficult than growing them. The explanation of this 
may be that in the natural course fat is not produced unless every 
other existing need is supplied. If not demonstrable, it is still a 
reasonable theory that on a ration supplying all the material for 
growth that it can use (forcing development at the highest rate of 
which the organization is capable), a bird of high functional power 
could store up some fat without expense to growth. Many rapidly 
growing birds do this even while on range and taking all the exer- 
cise that they need. On the other hand, undersized birds are usually 
poor in flesh as well as small until growth is completed, and are 
not profitable feeders at any age or for any purpose. 

Not only should birds undergoing the finishing process be re- 
stricted either by confinement or by circumstances, but particular 
care should be given to protecting them from alarms, annoyances, 
and disturbances of all kinds. These may affect a fattening bird 
more seriously than one growing under more normal conditions, or 
than a laying hen, because the general effect of the conditions of 
the finishing process is physically demoralizing to the bird, which 
becomes more and more sensitive to disturbing influences, as the 
process continues. Not infrequently poultry being fattened are con- 
fined where they are constantly exposed to annoyances. Under such 
conditions good results are impossible, except, perhaps, with very 
phlegmatic birds. Constitutional tendency has much to do with fat- 
tening. In general, the medium-weight and heavy breeds fatten 
more readily than the smaller and more active ones, but even in 
the breeds with a marked tendency to put on fat many individual 
specimens are difficult to fatten, and sometimes whole stocks with 
the type and characteristics of such birds will prove very unsatis- 
factory when subjected to a finishing process. 

Special fattening plants using ordinary methods. Goose-fatten- 
ing farms, developed by poultry buyers for finishing geese raised 
principally on pasture, are the only special fattening establishments 
using ordinary methods of finishing. Some of these farms have 
fattened from ten thousand to fifteen thousand geese a season. The 
profits are sometimes very large, but the risk of disease in buying 
birds from many sources, and in using the same land year after 



year, is so great that this line has proved a most precarious one. 
Some of the most successful men in it, knowing the risks to which 
they were continually exposed, have systematically urged the growers 
from whom they were buying to fatten their own geese, and growers 
are more and more following this advice, especially when located 
near good markets. 

Fowls, ducks, and (more rarely) turkeys are sometimes fed in 
considerable numbers by buyers in touch with large live-poultry 
markets, who take advantage of opportunities to buy cheap and 
increase the weight of the birds while holding them for a rise. 
Operations of this kind are rather irregular, and, like most specu- 
lative transactions, are often unprofitable. 

Special finishing methods. There are two special fattening proc- 
esses, crate feeding and cramming. Occasion for special methods 
comes in part from the neglect or failure of ordinary methods and 
in part from the demand for poultry fatted more than is possible 
by ordinary methods. Both processes date from early times and 
have long been used in Europe. Several efforts to introduce them 
into America have met with very limited and temporary success. 
Whatever may be the case in countries where they have been long 
established, in America the exploitation of such methods turns 
the attention of the producer to the consideration of the advan- 
tage of ordinary methods of fattening, and when these are properly 
used, there is less material for and less need of special fattening. 
Again, while these special methods may sometimes give results 
not to be obtained by ordinary methods, they do not do so regularly. 
The truest appreciation of their utility is reached by treating them, 
not as of proved intrinsic worth and as necessary parts of any 
good general system of poultry culture, but as useful (like all other 
methods) in proportion to their adaptation to conditions existing 
at any time and place. 

Crate feeding. The process of crate feeding carries the detail of 
finishing by restriction of exercise and by forced feeding farther 
than is practicable by ordinary methods, with the birds penned on 
a floor. The food used is finely ground grains mixed to about the 
consistency of batter and fed in troughs. The use of such food 
makes it necessary to keep the birds in small groups, with the 
food outside of their compartment, and also to keep them on such 


a floor or bottom that their feet and feathers will be as little 
soiled as possible by the soft droppings which the use of such 
food makes, and that the coops may require as little attention 
as possible. To meet these requirements coops with floors of 
slats about 2 inches wide and 2 inches apart are used. 

Unlike the ordinary methods of finishing, crate feeding cannot 
properly be considered a modification of methods used prior to 
the finishing period. It is quite different, both theoretically and 
in fact. The practice apparently had its origin not with growers of 
poultry but with poulterers, middlemen, who saw an oppor- 
tunity to make a profit by giving to poultry a better finish than 
the growers did. Thus, as a rule, the crate-fed birds are abruptly 
changed from one set of conditions to quite different conditions. 
Some birds are unfavorably affected by such changes, others are 
not and may even be stimulated by a change. The birds that are 
not affected by the change and can stand the forced feeding long 
enough may be doubled in value in a few weeks at a very low cost 
for food and labor. A bird that cannot stand the feeding may lose 
value. Success in crate feeding thus depends first on the feeder's 
accuracy in judging which birds will stand the process. This a 
skillful feeder can determine within the first two or three days of 
crate feeding. The birds not desirable for his purpose can then be 
disposed of with slight loss, if not with some profit, and his profit 
on the whole transaction be considerable. With poor judgment in 
selecting birds for feeding, results may be more unsatisfactory than 
when ordinary methods of fattening are used. On this continent 
the practice of crate-feeding has thus far been confined to packing 
establishments buying in sections where poultry is cheap and not 
well finished, and to a few poultrymen here and there whose 
opportunities and aptitude for this line of work enable them to 
take advantage of the failure of others to finish their product, and 
of proximity to good markets. The grower estimating the value 
to him of crate feeding must compare results not with prices for 
such unfinished birds as are the raw material of the crate feeder, 
but with results obtained by the simpler method of pen fattening. 

Cramming. The process of cramming carries forced feeding 
to its limit, the birds being closely confined and compelled to 
swallow food that they do not want. The process is a very ancient 



one, and seems at first to have consisted in forcing the birds to 
swallow solid food after their natural appetite led them to dis- 
continue eating. This sort of hand cramming is still practiced to 
some extent in Europe. In machine cramming liquid food is forced 
into the crop of the bird. This method is sometimes used exclu- 
sively and sometimes following a period of crate feeding, forcing 
the process beyond what is possible when the bird is free to take 
much or little food as it desires. A more .uniform product is 
secured by cramming, though the best crate-fed stock is said to 
be fully as well finished as that which has been crammed. 

As would be expected from the relations of the two processes, 
cramming is less used everywhere than crate feeding. On this 
continent the amount of machine feeding done is insignificant. 
The advantages of special finishing methods are generally over- 
stated by those advocating them. In a large proportion of the 
cases in which remarkable gains in weight are made when birds 
are crate or machine fed, much of this gain is growth which would 
be made under any good system of feeding. The best showing for 
special fattening methods is almost invariably made with chickens 
at the stage of most rapid growth and with good chickens. Special 
finishing methods are not, as is popularly supposed, methods for 
making good poultry out of really poor poultry. They are used, 
supplementing the work of the grower, to shorten the time 
required to finish the birds and to put on an extra finish. It is 
possible by their use to put much more fat onto birds than by 
the ordinary methods of fattening, but here there is no object in 
doing this. So far the most conspicuous result of the exploitation 
of these methods is to increase the use of the ordinary method 
of finishing poultry for market. 

Caponizing. In America caponizing is extensively practiced only 
in a few districts where growing large roasting chickens is a spe- 
cialty. A capon is a castrated cockerel. The effect of the operation 
is not (as is popularly supposed) to greatly increase growth. On the 
contrary, for the period during which they are usually kept before 
marketing, a capon grows no larger than it would if it had not been 
operated upon. The object is to keep the young males quiet, to 
keep them soft-meated as long as possible, and to make them easier 
to fatten. The practice is most common among growers of winter 

3 io 


chickens to be held for the early summer trade and marketed at 
from seven to nine months of age. Most of these are sold not as 
capons but as roasting chickens, both capons and pullets being so 
designated. Except for the operation these capons are handled 
in every way like the pullets grown with them. 

Cockerels of Asiatic breeds or of the large general-purpose type 
are most suitable for capons. The operation is usually performed 
when the chicks are about six or eight weeks old. It must be done 
between the time when the testicles become easily visible through 
the incision made in the side and the time when they begin to be 
functionally active. After that the loss of blood and the shock to 
the bird make it inadvisable. 

The operation. The testicles of birds, being located internally 
and attached to the backbone a little below the middle of the back, 
can be removed only through incisions in the sides. Instruments 
for caponizing are made by manufacturers of surgical instruments, 
and sold by them direct and also through poultry-supply dealers. 
Directions for operating are furnished with instruments. The 
operation is not particularly difficult for one who" has a good eye 
and a steady hand. While it may be learned by following instruc- 
tions, few become proficient in it without personal instruction and 
considerable practice. An expert operator will caponize from forty 
to sixty birds in an hour. Chicks of suitable size do not seem to 
suffer from the operation. The wounds heal quickly and often 
leave no scar visible when the birds are dressed. 

Slips are capons which, as they grow, develop to some extent the 
sexual characters of which it is the object of the operation to 
deprive them. This is due, presumably, to defective operation, but 
some good operators declare that with the greatest care they still 
have many slips. Slips are not sexually potent, but as they become 
hard-meated and " staggy," they are marketed as soon as their 
character becomes apparent. 



Dressed poultry. The number of steps in the preparation of 
dressed poultry varies according to the kind of poultry, the choice 
of methods, and the disposition to be made of it. The full list is 
(i) fasting, (2) killing, (3) scalding, (4) picking, (5) cooling, 
(6) shaping, (7) grading, (8) packing. 

Fasting. Before being killed, poultry should be fasted (starved 
by withholding food and water) for from twenty-four to thirty-six 
hours, that when they are killed, the crop, gizzard, and entrails 
may be quite empty. This improves the appearance of the car- 
cass. A dressed bird with crop bulging at one side of the breast 
is not at all attractive looking. Fasting also improves the keep- 
ing qualities of the carcass by removing from it offal already in a 
state of partial decomposition. Poultry to be used at home need 
not be starved, but unless it is to be cooked immediately after kill- 
ing, it is better to keep the birds fasting for at least a day before- 
hand. Packers of poultry, as well as producers who ship their own 
product, sometimes feed and water shortly before killing, to increase 
the weight. Apart from the dishonesty of this, it does not always 
pay in the immediate returns, and always finally works to the dis- 
advantage of those practicing it. In some places, offering poultry 
for sale with food in the crop is prohibited by law. Poultry dressed 
in this condition will shrink much more in weight during transpor- 
tation than poultry that has been properly starved before killing, 
and the shipper who follows this practice is constantly in difficulty 
with his customers over short weights. The necessary shrinkage 
in weight from fasting is very slight, and is more than compen- 
sated for by better appearance, better condition, and (usually) by 
the better price received. 

Killing. When dressed poultry is to be sold in the open markets 
the method of killing is determined by the style of dressing 

3 11 


that the market demands. When it is to be used by the producer 
or sold direct to consumers, the method easiest for the poultryman 
may be used, provided it is not objectionable to consumers. The 
common methods of killing are wringing the neck, dislocating the 
neck, cutting offfae head, and sticking (with a knife). 

Wringing the neck. For birds not too large or too tough, and for one who 
has the strength and nerve to do it, wringing the neck is the easiest way of 
killing. The head of the bird is grasped firmly in one hand, and the neck is 
wrung and the head completely severed from the body in an instant by whirl- 
ing the bird by the head, the hand of the person rapidly describing a few short 
circles. This is a common method of killing fowls and chickens for immediate 

consumption. When done with skill 
and on suitable birds, it is as humane as 
any method. When unskillfully done, 
or tried on birds with strong frames 
and tough skin, the usual result is 
strangulation without proper bleeding. 
Dislocating the neck. Dislocating 
the neck is a method popular in Canada 
but not used in the United States. The 
legs and primary wing feathers are held 
in the left hand (as in cutting off the head), 
this hand being held near the waist. 
The head of the bird is grasped be- 
tween the thumb and forefinger of the 
FIG. 319. Killing fowl by dislocating right ^^ ^ bent back at aright angle 

to the neck, while at the same time, by 

a strong but short pull, the neck is broken close to the skull and the wind- 
pipe and arteries severed so that the bird will bleed freely. The skin is not 
broken, and the blood collects in the neck close to the head and clots there. 

Cutting off the head. Cutting off the head is the method of killing most 
practiced with poultry that is not to be held long after killing, or not sent to 
markets which want birds with heads on. The bird is held in the left hand 
by the legs and the primary wing feathers, the wings being drawn back until 
these feathers can be grasped with the legs in the hand. The head is then 
laid on a block of wood and severed as close as possible to the juncture of 
the head and neck with a heavy hatchet or ax ; whichever is used should have 
a straight, sharp edge. For killing a few birds occasionally, any block will do, 
but if much killing is done, it is best to have a solid chopping block about 
two feet high, with a smooth top, the surface of which will not be spoiled 
by the hatchet in a short time. After the head is severed, the bird should still 
be held in the hand, the neck over the edge of the block, the body held in 
this position by the flat side of the hatchet until the bird ceases to struggle, 
when it may be placed on the ground without danger of bruising itself in its 



struggles. When many birds are killed, it is a good plan to have a pail or 
other vessels to catch the blood and prevent its being wasted. 1 

Sticking. Sticking is done with a short, 2 sharp knife, the cut being made 
either in the neck (outside), severing the jugular vein, or in the mouth (inside), 
piercing the brain. The latter method is preferred, because the cut is con- 
cealed. The bird is sometimes stunned by striking the head against a post or 
by striking with a stick on the head or back before sticking, but this tends 
to prevent proper bleeding, and is not as commonly practiced as formerly. 
The details of killing by this method vary considerably, particularly as to the 
position of the operator and of the bird when the cut is made. These depend 
upon the method of picking and upon whether each picker kills his own 
birds or whether one person does all the killing for a gang of pickers. 

FIG. 320. Sticking fowl held with FIG. 321. Sticking fowl suspended 

the hand by the legs 

When each picker kills his own birds, one at a time as he wants them, he 
usually works sitting down, with a coop of live birds at one side and a box 
for feathers at the other, and holds the bird between his knees with the head 
extended from him while making the stick. Sometimes, however, especially 
when picking large birds not easily stuck in that position, the picker stands 
up and holds the body of the bird between his arm and his side, with the head 
extended forward in the left hand in a convenient position for sticking. 

When one person does the killing for a number of pickers, as is usual 
when poultry is scalded, the birds are often suspended in loops, by the feet, 

1 The blood may be fed to poultry either separate or in mash. 

2 Regular poultry-killing knives are short, but some pickers use a common 
butcher knife. 


from a beam, and a hook with a weight attached, inserted in the upper mandible 
before the stick is made, prevents struggling. This method is also used in 
what is known as string picking, in which the bird is picked while suspended 
instead of being placed on a bench or held on the knees of the picker. 

Methods of making the stick vary slightly, the object in all cases being 
the same, to penetrate the brain and paralyze the bird (causing the feathers to 
loosen so that they are easily removed), and to secure free bleeding. The method 
may perhaps be best described as a stab to the brain, well back in the roof of 
the mouth (the thrust cutting crosswise), then a twist of the knife to bring it into 
position, and a slit forward the entire length of the roof of the mouth. Skill 
in sticking depends first on acquiring the knack of it, and then upon practice. 
Even a good sticker does not always make a good stick. Diagrams are some- 
times given to illustrate the 
cut, but it is to be doubted 
whether they are of any real 
assistance, for it is the sense 
of touch, more than any- 
thing else, that regulates 
the movement of the knife. 
The sticker knows when 
he has made his thrust right 
by a peculiar shiver which 
the bird gives and which 
he soon learns to recognize 
by touch. He presses the 
knife to the brain until he 
feels this, then turns it and 
cuts forward to give the 
blood free vent, being careful all the while not to cut through to damage the 
outside of the head and, perhaps, his fingers. When the bird is to be dry 
picked, the removal of the feathers is begun at once, the object being to have 
it picked quite clean before bleeding stops. When the bird is to be scalded, 
bleeding should be finished before scalding is done, or the heat may bring the 
blood to the skin and coagulate it there, spoiling the appearance of the carcass. 

Scalding. This process is used much more extensively and with 
more satisfactory results than would be inferred from a perusal of 
most of the special articles and pamphlets on the preparation of 
poultry for market. It is the easiest way to remove the feathers. 
When properly done the scalded bird presents none of the defects 
of poorly scalded poultry, and can be distinguished from the dry- 
picked bird only by experts. Done carelessly or by one who does 
not understand it, scalding usually results in spoiling the appear- 
ance of every bird put through the process. 

'FiG. 322. How ducks are handled when one man 
kills and scalds 



How to scald. The first thing in scalding poultry is to have a vessel of 
water large enough to allow free handling of the birds. The next thing is to 
maintain the water at the desired temperature as long as required. The tem- 
perature of the water should be just below boiling. When a single chicken or 
a medium-sized fowl is to be scalded, it may be done in a twelve- or sixteen- 
quart pail, by using enough water, boiling when taken from the stove, to make 
the pail a little over half full. In pouring or dipping from the kettle or the tank 
to the pail, the temperature of water at the boiling point will usually be suffi- 
ciently reduced by contact with the cooler air as the water passes from vessel 
to vessel. The bird should be taken by the feet and soused in the water in such 
a way that the feathers will be rumpled by the movement and the water will 
penetrate nearly to the skin without reaching it. If the bird is to be dressed 
with the head on, the head should not be scalded but held in the hand while the 
scalding is done. It is not as easy to scald in this way as with the head off, but 
with a little care good work may be done. When scalding is done properly, 
the effect at the root of the feather is to steam the skin without scalding it. 
The time required varies with the condition and density of the feathers. A 
chicken or a molting hen may need only a plunge so rapid that the skin is 
hardly affected, though the scantiness of plumage allows the water to touch it. 
A full-feathered fowl, especially an old one, may require several plunges. The 
effect on the feathers is ascertained by plucking a few from the thigh near the 
hock joint. If these come easily, there should be no difficulty in removing 
the others. Only one or two birds can be scalded in the same water in this way, 
but more may be scalded if boiling water is added. For larger birds a boiler 
or a tub may be used. Results of scalding in this way are not uniform, how- 
ever, and if any considerable number are to be scalded, a set-kettle, under which 
a slow fire can be kept, should be used. This gives a body of water large 
enough for quick and thorough work in scalding, and after a few trials of the 
water on the stock with which he is working, an expert will put most of his 
birds through without a blemish due to poor scalding. If a bird has been well 
scalded, only the stiff tail and wing feathers need be pulled out. The others will 
rub off, except pinfeathers in birds not in full plumage. If handled immedi- 
ately after scalding, the feathers are usually a little too hot for the comfort of 
the picker. They are removed just as easily after they become cool enough to 
handle, and with little greater difficulty at any time within ten or twelve minutes. 

Ducks and geese. Waterfowl are much more difficult to scald than other 
poultry. Their dense plumage is not so easily penetrated by the water, and the 
ease with which the feathers on the thigh are removed is not as accurate an 
index of the general condition. A common practice is to wrap them in burlap 
(old grain sacks) after scalding, and allow them to steam in the hot, wet feathers 
for some minutes before beginning to pick. Even then a supplementary scald is 
sometimes necessary, after a part of the feathers have been removed. In pack- 
ing establishments steam is often used for scalding, giving a dry scald. The 
steam used is sometimes taken from a pipe or a hose, but direct steaming is 
said to be more satisfactory. Some of the smaller packing establishments use 


a method of steaming ducks which may be applied anywhere. On a common 
round, wide-topped laundry stove is placed a wash boiler with about three or 
four inches of water in the bottom ; in the boiler is a wooden frame which 
holds the bird in the steam without allowing it to get into the water. The bird 
is placed in the boiler and steamed for about one and one half minutes on 
one side, then turned and steamed for about the same length of time on the 
other side. 

In picking ducks and geese powdered rosin is sometimes used to assist 
in removing the fine down left after the outside feathers are removed. The 
rosin is rubbed onto the down, which mats, and is then more easily removed. 

FIG. 323. First step in lap picking: 
stripping feathers from breast 

FIG. 324. Second step in lap picking: 
stripping feathers from thigh 

In scald picking the picker usually works standing, with the bird on a table 
or a bench before him, and rough picks with the hands and \hzfronts (not the 
tips) of his thumbs and fingers. Most pickers remove stiff tail and wing feathers 
first, but some leave them until the last. It makes little difference. The im- 
portant thing is for the picker to have a systematic way and to pick clean as 
he goes, except for stubs and pinfeathers, which must be removed one by one. 

Dry picking. The removal of the feathers without wetting is the 
method favored by most eastern markets, and is best adapted to 
poultry that is to be kept in storage. It may be done at any time 
after killing. Pigeons and guineas and game birds of all kinds are 


marketed with the feathers on. In general practice with poultry, 
however, dry picking is done while the bird is dying, when it has 
lost consciousness and is insensible to pain, but when the relation 
between nervous and muscular systems still continues. Good work 
in dry picking depends first upon the proper sticking of the bird. 1 

NOTE. When the sticking is well done, the feathers come off quite as easily 
as with good scalding, but with a poor stick they come harder, and an inexpert 
picker is likely to break the skin and perhaps tear the birds badly. As in scald 
picking, the picker works 
as much as possible with 
his hands, wetting them 
at intervals to make the 
feathers stick to them, 
removing the feathers in 
handfuls, rubbing them off 
and unless pinfeathers are 
very small, taking them with 
the others. The pinfeathers 
and stubs that are not taken 
in this way must be re- 
moved one by one. For 

this (in both methods) the ^ ^ r ,^ 

FIG. 325. Gang of poultry pickers dressing geese 
professional picker uses 

a short knife, either seizing the stub between his thumb and the blade, or 
shaving it off. Practice, and a certain aptitude for such work, are required to 

1 The principle upon which this process is based is best explained by refer- 
ence to a phenomenon which every one with a little experience in handling poul- 
try has had occasion to observe. If in catching a bird one grasps it by the tail, 
some of the feathers are likely to be pulled out, and if the hold is only on the 
feathers, the bird will probably escape. If the bird is caught by the thigh, unless 
the hand quickly closes very tightly on it, a good many feathers may be pulled 
out just by the action of the closing of the hand on the leg, and by the momentum 
of the bird. Not infrequently, when caught by the back with so insecure a hold 
that the person catching it feels that he has hardly more than touched the bird, it 
loses feathers. Considering how hard these feathers usually are to get out when he 
wants them removed, the poultry keeper always feels somewhat surprised at the 
ease with which they come out under these circumstances. There is plainly a 
direct relation between the mental condition of the bird and the tenacity of the 
feathers. When the bird is in a state of fright, the feathers loosen, and their 
loosening may enable the bird to escape. The same effect on the feathers is 
secured by paralyzing the bird by stunning or by piercing the brain. It is also 
secured when the bird is killed by dislocating the neck, or by wringing the neck, 
or by beheading, though in the last two cases the complete severance of the head 
makes it impossible to direct the flow of blood and begin picking immediately, 
and so the feathers are relaxed a second time by scalding. 


make a good, fast picker. Aptitude consists largely in working methodically 
when removing the feathers, and in picking as clean as possible at every step. 
As to the division of the work, practice varies largely according to the quality 
of help to be obtained. Where enough capable pickers can be obtained, each 
finishes his own bird ; where the supply of good pickers is short, the skilled 
pickers often rough pick the birds and employ less expert persons to remove 
the stubs and pinfeathers. 

Scalding and dry picking compared. After the knack of sticking is acquired, 
dry picking is often more convenient. Unless the bird is properly killed, it is 
usually much easier for a novice in picking to get the feathers off by scalding, 
even if he has to build a fire and wait for the water to heat. In the results of 
inexpert use of the two methods there is little to choose, but, judging by the 
comparative scarcity of good scalders, it is much easier to acquire the knack of 
sticking than to learn to scald right. A poor scalder is apt to disfigure all his 
birds and, if he has never seen poultry well scalded, to think that it is unavoid- 
able. In dry picking it is not possible to miss seeing the difference in good and 
poor work, the inexpert picker's great difficulty being to avoid tearing the skin. 
He can therefore judge his own work better, and with practice is almost sure 
to become passably expert. Dry-picked poultry is said to keep longer in cold 
storage than even the best scalded poultry. For use within a few weeks after 
killing, the advantage of dry picking over good scalding is not apparent. The 
use of methods, however, is not a matter of choice with the producer who 
dresses his own poultry. He must follow the custom in his market, and scald 
pick or dry pick, or perhaps do some of both, according to the disposition 
to be made of his stock. 

Market requirements as to picking. The large eastern city mar- 
kets and pleasure resorts prefer dry-picked poultry. Inland, western, 
and southern markets, almost without exception, want the poultry 
for local consumption scald picked ; but at many of these points 
poultry shipped to eastern markets is dry picked. Customs, how- 
ever, are not consistently governed by the market preference ; con- 
ditions affecting shipment and the disposition of the goods may 
determine the method, and the poultry trade presents some striking 
anomalies in practice at this point. Thus, while the East prefers dry- 
picked poultry, a large proportion, perhaps the greater part, of the 
ducks produced there are scalded. Eastern turkeys are often scalded, 
while western turkeys for the eastern market are mostly dry picked. 
Poultry from the states in the Mississippi Valley east of the river is 
often scalded, even by the packers, for the eastern market ; while in 
the states west of the river the poultry going east is all dry picked. 
The poultry from points nearest the market, reaching it quickly and 



likely to be consumed at once, is scalded (that being the cheaper 
method), while that which takes longer to reach the market and is 
not so likely to find ready sale, and may have to go into cold storage, 
is dry picked (that being the method which best insures its keeping). 

At bottom it is not so much a question of method as of good 
work by either method. Good poultry marketed in good condition 
will bring about the same price scalded or dry picked, when the 
demand is brisk, but when trade is dull, poultry dressed by the 
method not favored in a market is hard to move on that market. 

Importance of proper cooling. In respect to its effect on quality, 
cooling is the most important part of the preparation of poultry 
for food. Enormous quantities of good poultry are damaged 
or spoiled entirely because not properly cooled when killed. The 
object of cooling is to remove the animal heat and check decom- 
position. The sooner the body is cooled, the longer it will keep 
and the better will be the texture and flavor of the meat. In cold 
weather, poultry may be cooled in the air (dry cooled). When the 
temperature is too high for rapid cooling in the air, poultry is 
cooled first in water of the ordinary temperature at which it comes 
from the well or hydrant, and then in ice water. Cooling the warm 
body suddenly in ice water is less effective than beginning with 
water of a higher temperature. It is supposed that too rapid chill- 
ing at the surface diminishes its conductivity and allows the animal 
heat inside to start decomposition more actively. Whenever it can be 
done, dry cooling is preferred to cooling in water. When the days 
are warm and the nights cool it is usual to put poultry into water 
in barrels, tubs, or tanks as soon as killed, and at night to hang it 
up or place it on racks to finish cooling. The killing should always 
be timed so as to give poultry sufficient time to cool before being 
packed. When it is .to be shipped only a few hundred miles or packed 
in ice, cooling for a night and a part of a day (according to the time 
of killing) should be enough. If the poultry is to be shipped dry 
packed for a long distance, it should be more thoroughly cooled. 
It is of much more importance that poultry should be well cooled 
before a long shipment than that it should be started on its journey 
quickly. The condition of the poultry at the start is a more important 
factor in its keeping than the time in transit. Packers nearly a week 
from their market cool poultry two or three days before shipping. 



Shaping. The operation of shaping is done sometimes as the 
birds are cooling, sometimes as they are packed. The object is to 
make the bird appear as plump as possible. The advantage is 
greatest with poultry in fair condition but not noticeably well 
meated. In Europe a number of methods of shaping are practiced, 
some even going so far as to wrap each bird tightly in cloth while 
cooling. A more common method there, used to some extent in 
Canada, is to place the birds in a squatting position in V-shaped 
troughs, with a weight on the back of each bird. A similar but 
simpler method is used by some packers in the United States, the 
birds being held in a squatting position on a rack by strips from I ^ to 
2 inches high, about 6 or 8 inches apart in front and coming together 
at the rear, a board the length of the rack serving as a weight for 
all the birds on it. With good, plump stock there is little occasion 
for such shaping for American markets. The object of it is evi- 
dently deceptive, to press in the breast and hip bones and give 
an appearance of greater meatiness than exists. Good stock does 
not need this treatment for these markets. All that is necessary is 
to pack in such position that the carcass will present a symmetrical 
appearance and show for just what it is. 

Grading. The proper sorting and grading of dressed poultry is 
of less importance to the ordinary producer than to the packer, 
but still it should have his attention. Packers make many grades, 
according to weight, quality, condition, etc. Producers marketing 
their own poultry usually make no more than three grades of any 
one kind of poultry, firsts, seconds, and culls, and unless oper- 
ations have been very unsuccessful, the proportion of seconds and 
culls should be small. 

Firsts are choice, well-finished birds, not damaged in dressing. 

Seconds are slightly inferior birds, and firsts slightly damaged 
in dressing. 

Culls are decidedly poor and badly damaged birds. 

Whether selling single birds to individual consumers or selling 
in quantity, the poultry keeper should carefully avoid putting in- 
ferior stuff with his better grades. The object of grading is not to 
pass off all that he has with the highest grade that it can get by, but 
to assort it in conformity with the general scale of prices and de- 
mands of the trade. There is nothing to be gained in money by 

FIG. 326. The side pack, roasting 


grading poultry too high. There 
is more likely to be a loss, for the 
inferior birds packed with those 
of a better grade detract from the 
appearance of the lot and often 
reduce the price. In addition to 
grading each kind of poultry, 
the shipper should keep different 
kinds, though of like quality, sep- 
arate, and as far as practicable 
should have each package of 
birds uniform in size. It is much 
easier to do this now, when small 
packages are in vogue, than it 

was when most poultry was packed in barrels and large boxes. 
Packing. Two methods of packing are used, dry packing 

and ice packing, the former being employed when weather and 

distance permit, and the latter when there is danger of poultry 

spoiling in transit un- 
less iced. 

Dry-packed poultry 

is mostly shipped in 

boxes. For irregular 

and small shipments 

any clean second-hand 

box of convenient size 

may be used. For 

regular shipments of 

choice poultry it is 

better to use special 

boxes holding one or 

two dozen birds, and of 

dimensions to suit the 

sizes of the birds. For 

regular short-distance 

shipments (by express) 

Of poultry going into im- FlG . 327 . Style of packing fowls for export. (Pho- 
mediate consumption tograph from United States Bureau of Chemistry) 



it is best to use returnable boxes very substantially built, with 
covers held in place with bolts and nuts, and with handles on the 
ends for convenience in lifting. For long-distance shipments and 
for lots which it may be desired to hold in storage, such light boxes 
as the poultry packers use are more suitable. Packers making many 
grades of poultry and assorting carefully as to size use boxes of 
different dimensions, to fit one or two dozen birds of each size. 
The producer will usually find it more satisfactory to use a few 
standard-sized boxes adapted to the sizes of birds of which he ships 
most, putting fewer large birds, and a large number of small ones, 
in a box. While the dozen is a convenient numerical division, 
poultry nearly always is sold by weight 1 and even when the trade 
prefers one- or two-dozen lots, an occasional package containing 
less or more than the round number will sell as readily as the rest. 
Styles of box packing are shown in Figs. 326-328. 


Inches inside 

For 1 2 broilers, 24 Ib. and under per dozen . . . 1 6 x 1 5 x 3 \ 

For 12 broilers, 25 to 30 Ib. per dozen 17x16x4 

For 12 chickens, 30 to 35 Ib. per dozen . . . . 18x17x4 

For 12 chickens, 43 to 47 Ib. per dozen . . . . 21x19x4! 

For 12 roasters, 48 to 59 Ib. per dozen . . . . 19x16x8 

For 12 fowl, 54 Ib. and upward per dozen . . . . 19x16x8 

For 12 ducks, 54 Ib. per dozen 19x16x8 

For 1 2 fowl, 60 Ib. per dozen 18x17x9 

For 12 fowl, 38 Ib. and under per dozen . . . . 14 x I2| x 7 

For 12 chickens, 30 to 40 Ib. per dozen . . . . 151 x 14 x 6\ 

For 1 2 average turkeys or geese . . . . . . . 24 x 1 9 x 1 1 

Boxes for the smallest birds may be made of 1-inch stuff for sides, and 
^-inch for ends ; boxes for birds of medium weight, of -| inch stuff for sides 
and | inch for ends ; those for heavy-weight birds, of \ inch stuff for sides 
and | inch for ends. If many boxes are needed, it will pay to buy regulation 
sizes in knockdown bundles, or, if there is a box factory near to have stuff got 
out to measure there and put it together as wanted. Sometimes empty packing 
cases of suitable material can be bought so cheap that the poultryman can afford 
to cut them up and make his own packing boxes at odd times. 

1 There are a few places where birds are sold at so much apiece, or so much a 
dozen, without regard to weight. 



There are two principal points to be observed in packing : (i) that 
the birds be packed solidly, so that they will not shift when the 
package is handled ; (2) that the package, when opened, present 
an orderly arrangement and show the goods to advantage. The 
removal of the cover should show either all breasts, all backs, or all 
sides, and legs, heads, and wings all in the same relative positions. 

Ice-packed poultry is usually shipped in large barrels. A layer 
of clean chipped ice is first placed on the bottom of the barrel, 

FIG. 328. Two outside top boxes, standard roaster pack ; top center and bottom 

row, standard broiler pack. (Photograph from the Bureau of Chemistry, United 

States Department of Agriculture) 

then a layer of poultry, packed in a circle with backs up and feet 
toward the center, the poultry nowhere touching the sides of the 
barrel ; then a layer of ice and another layer of poultry, and so 
on until the barrel is full to within six inches of the top, when it 
is filled with larger pieces of ice and covered with bagging. In 
very warm weather a large chunk of ice put on top (under the 
bagging) will add to the safety of the shipment. Poultry thor- 
oughly cooled before packing, and properly packed and iced, should 
be safe for two days' shipment by express or for four or five days 


in a refrigerator car. Natural ice is better for packing poultry than 
artificial ice, because it melts faster, and the cold water percolating 
through the layers of poultry keeps them at a uniformly cool tem- 
perature. If the ice melts too slowly, the poultry may arrive at its 
destination in poorer condition with much ice remaining than if 
the ice has all melted. 

Feathers. Wherever a -considerable quantity of poultry is dressed 
it will pay to save and sell the feathers. The feathers of ducks 
and geese, if handled and disposed of properly, should pay for the 
picking. Other feathers are less valuable but still worth taking 
care of. Stiff and soft feathers, white and colored feathers, and the 
feathers of each kind of poultry should be kept separate. The 
feathers from dry-picked stock are usually in better condition than 
those from scalded stock, but with a little care scalded feathers can 
be cured so that they will sell well, though not as prime feathers. 
The wing and tail feathers require no curing ; the body feathers 
should be placed in bins or in a loft and forked over at intervals 
until the quills are thoroughly dry. 

Shipping live poultry. Ventilated coops with solid bottoms and 
open sides and tops, made of slats or wire netting over a frame, are 
used for shipping live poultry. Standard coops used by large ship- 
pers are made of hardwood strips reenforced with twisted wire, 
for fowls, 2x3 feet, 1 2 inches high ; for turkeys, 2x3 feet, 
1 6 inches high. A coop with a 2 x 3 feet bottom is large enough 
for a dozen medium-sized fowls, and for from one to two dozen 
chickens, according to size. Filled with live poultry it makes as 
large and as heavy a package as can be easily handled by one man. 
This is the size preferred by commission men and expressmen ; 
but many shippers make a larger coop, with floor from 30 to 36 
inches wide by 4 feet long, usually with a partition in the middle. 
These coops are usually homemade. Poultry is not often shipped 
in coop lots over distances so great that the birds must be fed and 
watered in transit. Long-distance shipments are usually made -by 
middlemen either in cars especially fitted for poultry, or with an 
attendant to feed and water on the journey. 

Sorting and grading. Uniformity is as important with live as 
with dressed poultry. The birds shipped in a coop (or in a com- 
partment of a double coop) should be of the same kind and as 


nearly as possible of the same age, size, and weight. It is also an 
advantage to have them of the same color, for y while color is not 
of such importance in market as in fancy poultry, as far as it con- 
tributes to uniformity of appearance it makes a lot more salable, 
and often brings a little better price. In general it is advisable to 
have each lot of the same sex, especially in fowls past broiler 
size. Grading is less essential when shipping to buyers who dress 
to sell than when shipping to firms which sell the birds alive. 
Concerns dressing poultry and buying direct from producers will 
usually sort mixed lots as they kill and make returns accordingly. 

Eggs. The preparation of eggs for market is the simplest of 
matters. They must be whole, clean, assorted for color and size, 
and packed in packages of suitable size. As marketed by a pro- 
ducer they should always be fresh. If a poultry keeper wishes, 
either for experiment or for home use, to preserve eggs, that is 
solely his own affair. If he undertakes to sell at the same time 
preserved and fresh eggs, he will soon find that all his eggs are 
under suspicion and that he has damaged his best trade. The 
poultry keeper who wants to make a reputation for good eggs, and 
to get the highest prices, should keep rigidly to the practice of 
selling only fresh eggs. 

Cleaning eggs. If the poultry houses are clean, the nests kept 
in good condition, and the hens laying eggs with good shells, the 
proportion of eggs requiring cleaning before being marketed should 
be small. As far as possible, wetting the shell is to be avoided, for 
it destroys the " bloom " which is the conspicuous, distinguishing 
feature of the fresh egg, disappearing with age and handling. If 
an egg is only slightly soiled it may sometimes be cleaned by rub- 
bing lightly with a dry cloth. If this' does not answer, a slightly 
moistened cloth may remove the dirt. Eggs that are badly soiled 
should be washed in warm (not hot) water, and dried at once with 
a soft cloth. The warm water removes the dirt more quickly than 
cold, and eggs washed in warm water are more easily dried. No 
soap or other cleansing preparation should be used, only clean 
water. If the shell is stained, as sometimes it is, with manure or 
'from being wet in the nest, it is better to keep the egg for home 
cooking. It is not injured except in appearance, but it is salable 
only as a " dirty " at about half price. 


Sorting eggs for color. Uniformity in the color of the shell 
is desirable, even .though the market has not a color preference. 
Mixed lots of eggs do not look as well or sell as readily as lots 
of uniform color. Eggs are classed according to color, as white, 
gray, and brown. 

White eggs are not, as a rule, of a dead-white color, though that 
is sometimes found ; they are nearly always slightly tinted. Eggs 
that are uniform in color and look white unless closely compared 
with something whiter may be classed as white. 

Gray eggs are eggs that are plainly not white, yet not dark 
enough to be considered brown. The color of the shell usually 
tends toward black rather than toward red or brown, but extremely 
light-brown eggs may be classed as gray. 

Brown eggs exhibit a wide range of color, from a light, golden 
brown to a reddish chocolate. Ordinary brown eggs are light 
brown. What are known to the trade as dark-brown eggs are 
mostly medium in the range of shades of brown found in eggs. 
Very dark-brown eggs are comparatively rare and are not often seen 
in quantity. Commercially, the darkest-brown eggs are not favored 
beyond the ordinary dark brown eggs. Where the range of shades 
is so wide the uniformity of color presented by ordinary white eggs 
graded with a little care can be secured only by a more discriminat- 
ing selection than it is usually practicable to make. For all ordi- 
nary trade purposes it is enough to make two grades of brown 
eggs, light and dark (medium), discarding, as not brown, the white 
or gray eggs sometimes laid by brown-egg stock, and packing the 
darkest eggs with the medium. An appearance of greater uniform- 
ity of color may be secured by a little care in placing the eggs so 
that those of different shades are not placed at random but arranged 
according to shade, not so accurately that the shades blend per- 
fectly, but with care to avoid marked differences in shades of eggs 
in adjoining compartments. 

Grading for size. Grading for size consists principally in dis- 
carding from lots designed for ordinary trade all very large and all 
very small eggs. The compartments of boxes and cases used for 
packing eggs for market are usually of pasteboard sufficiently elastic' 
to allow the larger eggs to spread the sides of the compartment, 
the smaller eggs being placed in the adjoining compartments ; but 


eggs that are so long that they project above the filler are almost 
sure to be broken, because the board between the layers of eggs is 
less elastic and because, when the lower layer is covered, it is not 
possible to adapt short eggs in one layer to long ones in the one 
below. Eggs that are too long for the fillers should not be packed 
in them. A distinction should, however, be made between a long 
egg of ordinary width which cannot be placed so that its end will 
not project from its compartment, and a long, narrow egg which 
will fit diagonally into the compartment. Of eggs that are too wide 
for the compartments, as many may be used as can be put in with- 
out danger to those in adjacent compartments. Provided the shell 
is strong, an egg of suitable size need not be discarded for any of 
the common eccentricities of shape, as corrugated shell or marked 
departure from the oval form. 

In a general way the size of the compartment in the standard 
egg box and case regulates the size in grading choice eggs. Eggs 
weighing from twenty-five to twenty-eight ounces to the dozen will 
fit into the fillers with very few to discard because too large or too 
small. Eggs weighing more than twenty-eight ounces to the dozen 
will have a larger proportion of those too large for the fillers. Eggs 
weighing less than twenty-five ounces to the dozen will contain 
many so small that when packed the compartments seem only half 
or two thirds full. Small eggs never show to poorer advantage than 
when packed in this manner. 

Egg cases and boxes. The standard wholesale package for eggs 
is a light wooden box, or case, with two compartments, each hold- 
ing fifteen dozen eggs, thirty dozen to the case. Cases of simi- 
lar construction holding thirty-six dozen are also used, but not so 
extensively. In general trade the cases are sometimes returnable 
and sometimes sold with the eggs. Both producers and collectors 
making regular shipments of strictly fresh eggs often use more 
substantial cases, always returnable, marked with their own stencil, 
and such cases are sometimes painted a distinctive color. For ship- 
ment by ordinary express, they are safer than the light trade case, 
though the latter is as good or better for carload lots and for storage. 

For retailing eggs in original packages smaller cases are used. 
Where a consumer uses considerable quantities, but less than a case 
weekly, say from fifteen to twenty dozen, the poultry keeper 


who supplies him often uses a one-compartment case just half the 
standard size, for fifteen dozen, and for a larger number makes or 
has made boxes that will hold just the required number and has 
the consumer's address as well as his own painted on the boxes. 
For smaller lots to be shipped by express, smaller boxes are made, 
holding from two to ten dozen. For eggs to be delivered direct 
from producer to consumer the cheap pasteboard egg boxes (hold- 
ing one dozen each) which retail grocers and provision dealers use 
are commonly used by poultrymen. For those who require large 
quantities of them manufacturers will print on the boxes special 
labels or designs, which add to the attractiveness of the package 
and also advertise the goods. However small the quantity of eggs 
to be sold, the most satisfactory way to handle them is to pack 
them in boxes. 



Poultry keepers and middlemen. To dispose of his produce with 
the largest possible profit to himself is the aim of every poultry 
keeper. It is commonly assumed that this is best accomplished by 
dispensing with middlemen and selling direct to the consumer, 
and that every time a middleman is eliminated from the number 
concerned in the collection and distribution of eggs and poultry, 
the producer is benefited. Under some circumstances this may 
be true ; considering the interests of the producer in particular 
instances, it will often appear that he makes much larger profits 
by selling direct to consumers than by selling through middlemen. 
Broader comparisons of results, however, indicate that study of 
such special instances may be misleading. It has been shown that, 
in general, a poultry business is limited to what one man can 
manage with the (usually) very limited help he can rely upon. 
When a man conducting such a business undertakes to sell direct 
to consumers, he often finds that it costs him more to sell his 
produce than it does the middlemen, and that he can make more 
money by giving all his time to production and selling his products 
through the ordinary channels, he, of course, taking every advan- 
tage that he can without himself retailing his goods. A poultry 
keeper whose opportunities or facilities for production are limited 
may find it to his advantage, and perhaps necessary, to sell his 
produce direct to consumers, but one who is in a position to extend 
productive operations to the limit of his ability to handle them will 
almost invariably make more money by giving as much as possible 
of his time to production and intrusting the selling of his produce 
to reliable persons whose specialty is selling. This is a natural 
division of labor brought about by the conditions of production 
and distribution and by differences in men. The best producers 
of poultry are rarely good salesmen. In the most thriving poul- 
try districts producers generally devote themselves to production, 

3 2 9 


selling their produce at wholesale, not even dressing their poultry. 
As a matter of historical fact the men buying and shipping the 
poultry of a district are the most important factors in the develop- 
ment of the poultry interests of that district. 1 

Collection and distribution of poultry products. The trade in 
poultry products proceeds along lines generally parallel to and 
sometimes coincident with the movement of other provisions. 

Eggs. A poultry keeper producing more eggs than his family 
can consume naturally looks in his vicinity first for an outlet for 
his surplus. If he is in a community where a considerable propor- 
tion of families do not keep poultry, he may easily sell all that he 
has direct to consumers, perhaps getting a premium for his eggs 
as strictly fresh. If the eggs are sold at the door, or if the producer 
can deliver them without devoting an appreciable amount of time 
especially to it, the cost of delivery need not be considered. The 
quantity of eggs which can be disposed of to consumers in this 
way is usually very limited. Larger quantities may be disposed of 
direct to retailers, or to hotel, restaurant, and soda-fountain trade, at 
correspondingly high prices and with little expense for delivery, 
though the trade of this class is not as large as is usually supposed, 
these places generally using much larger quantities of candled than 
of strictly fresh eggs. 

When a community produces a surplus of eggs, only those 
poultry keepers producing in such quantities that they can make 

1 This is true both as to the industry at large and as to special branches in 
limited districts. Poultry packers throughout the West have for years worked 
systematically to induce and help farmers to improve their poultry. They have 
made it a practice to select the finest market-type cockerels from the poultry 
brought to them and to sell these to persons bringing them poor poultry. They 
have even bought thoroughbred cockerels of good utility types and exchanged 
with farmers on the basis of prices paid them for ordinary stock. For years some 
large packing plants made a practice of advertising, a week in advance, the prices 
that they would pay for poultry, thus insuring the seller against a fall in prices while 
his stock was en route. On a smaller scale the same thing was done by buyers in 
the South Shore district of Massachusetts. The buyers there not only distributed 
good breeding males but in every way endeavored to aid the producers to make a 
first-class product and to dispose of it to the best advantage, paying at their doors 
the highest price that they could give for poultry, not the lowest that the producer 
could be persuaded or forced to take. Under such circumstances the producer 
could give all his attention to making the product, knowing that as fast as it was 
ready for market, the buyer would take it off his hands, and his final profits would 
be much larger than if he had sold to consumers direct. 


frequent periodic shipments in case lots can, as a rule, afford to ship 
their own eggs. 1 In 'such circumstances it becomes necessary that 
some should collect and ship the eggs of others. The collector 
may be himself a producer ; this is most likely to be the case in 
communities within easy shipping distance of a large market. At 
other points the volume of poultry products to be handled usually 
determines whether the collector will handle poultry products ex- 
clusively or with other lines of produce. If the poultry production 
of the community is small, the eggs are likely to be taken in bulk 
at the grocery or general store, packed in cases, and sent either 
direct to a large receiving center or to an egg and poultry packer 
at a nearer point. If the community produces enough surplus poul- 
try products to maintain a depot for collecting them, it will have 
one or more concerns engaged exclusively in buying, preparing, and 
shipping poultry products, or in handling these with such lines as 
butter and cheese, sometimes one, sometimes another line being 
of first importance. Many creameries handle eggs as well as milk. 
These various agencies handling eggs sometimes collect and some- 
times are simply receivers, that being determined by local custom 
or by individual interest. 

Most of the eggs gathered in this way go into the general mar- 
ket through commission houses in the large cities, but large pack- 
ing houses also handle enormous quantities. Eggs going to the 
commission houses are sold direct to large consumers, hotels, res- 
taurants, and bakeries, to retailers, and also to jobbers, who in turn 
sell to retailers. Thus, between the time when it is laid, on a west- 
ern or southern farm, and the time when it comes to the table in 
an eastern city home, an egg may have a history as follows : ( I ) sold 
to country store ; (2) shipped to nearest egg depot ; (3) sent to 
city commission house ; (4) sold to jobber ; (5) sold to retailer ; 
(6) bought by consumer ; and in going from the farm to the table it 
may travel several thousand miles, now by wagon, now by rail, and 
be subjected to many handlings and one or two candlings before 
it reaches the end of its journey. If it goes into cold storage, or 
if a glut in one market leads to its being shipped to another, the 
number of transfers may be still greater. 

1 Exceptions are instances where a small producer can develop a small family 
trade in a near-by city. 



To the producer (and to the consumer also) it often seems that 
too much of the difference between the first and last selling prices 
goes to middlemen and transportation companies, but taken by 
and large the system is adapted to the conditions and is here 
relatively simple, there more complex, because of the influence of 
distance and of the facilities for collection, transportation, and 
distribution on the laws of supply and demand. 

As a rule, the movement of supplies from producer to consumer 
is as direct as conditions permit, and current prices at any point 
are based on the cost of the general supply at that point. In a 
community where a surplus of eggs and poultry is produced, the 
consumer gets a considerable part, if not all, of the advantage of 
nearness to sources of large supply. In or near a community which 
buys most of its poultry products at a distance, the producer should 
get by far the larger proportion of the last selling price of his product. 
In either case the situation is exceptional, and the advantage is de- 
pendent upon that fact. Where the supply of the near-by product 
is comparatively small, and supplies from a distance are of uncertain 
quantity, the average quality of the near-by product will be enough 
better to make it at nearly all times worth more than all but the 
finest lots of produce from a distance. In addition there is always, 
in such communities, a proportion of consumers willing to pay a 
premium for near-by produce of guaranteed quality, and a much 
smaller proportion that will pay a very large premium for strictly 
fresh poultry products, especially for eggs direct from the producer. 
The poultry keeper located where he can get this trade must figure 
the expense of catering to it, not in comparison with ordinary 
market prices, but in comparison with the best wholesale prices 
that he can get for the same class of goods. As a rule, it will be 
found that the private trade is more profitable only when it is pos- 
sible to secure customers buying both eggs and poultry regularly 
in considerable quantities, and that selling to large retail groceries 
is the most satisfactory way of disposing of choice eggs in large 
quantities. There are, however, so many places, particularly pleas- 
ure resorts, where a poultry keeper conveniently located can get 
extra prices for his produce for a long season each year, that be- 
fore going to this class of stores he should thoroughly canvass 
his opportunities for selling direct. 


Live poultry is assembled for market in almost the same way as 
eggs. The necessity for promptly forwarding it to the point where 
it is to be converted into dressed poultry tends to reduce the num- 
ber of persons handling it in the stages of collection. In distribu- 
tion, too, there is some difference. Live poultry is retailed almost 
wholly, and dressed poultry principally, by meat markets, while 
the grocery stores handle much larger quantities of eggs than the 
markets. Thus poultry moves in narrower channels of trade than 
eggs. In districts shipping large quantities of poultry to distant 
markets, the poultry is likely to be delivered by producers at re- 
ceiving depots, often the same to which eggs are taken, though in 
many places, where the poultry-shipping season is short, the depots 
do not handle eggs. Elsewhere collections are more likely to be 
made by carts taking only poultry, or eggs and poultry, according 
to circumstances. 

The greater part of the live poultry is dressed soon after leaving 
the producer, but large quantities are shipped alive to distributing 
points and even sold alive to retailers and consumers, for there 
is a large element of buyers that either want to see their poultry 
before it is killed, or want it killed in a particular way. In some 
places it is customary for the consumer to select birds from a coop 
of live poultry at the butcher's, and have them killed and dressed 
especially for him, sometimes waiting to take them away with him. 
Wherever there is a large Jewish population there is great demand 
for live poultry. Indeed, this demand is the principal factor affect- 
ing the live-poultry market. But for Jewish ceremonial require- 
ments the shipping of live poultry farther than the first convenient 
killing and packing house would probably soon cease. 

Dressed poultry is received at poultry depots at some seasons, 
particularly for Thanksgiving and Christmas trade, but is not col- 
lected as live poultry and eggs are. It would be almost impossible 
to adjust to the visits of the " hen cart " the fasting, killing, and 
cooling of the poultry of many producers along a route. Poultry 
dressed by the producer is (or should be) sold in advance, and the 
preparation and shipping timed so as to have the shipment reach 
its destination just when wanted. 

Relative advantages of selling poultry alive and dressed. In a 
district where the aggregate production of market poultry is large, 



but the individual production comparatively small, it will usually be 
to the advantage of a poultry keeper to sell his poultry alive to per- 
sons making a specialty of preparing it for market and selling it, 
rather than to undertake to dress and market it himself. A poultry 
keeper anywhere must dress his own poultry for a private trade or 
for small, irregular orders. But wherever there is poultry enough to 
run a special killing plant, such a plant, in the hands of persons who 
will deal fairly with the producers, can dress poultry cheaper and 
sell it better than the producers can, and make more money for 
both producer and dealer. A poultry keeper outside of the area 
tributary to such a plant will usually find it more profitable to dress 
his own poultry, provided he prepares it properly and has it 
disposed of before shipment. Otherwise he may get no more for 
dressed than he would for live poultry. If the poultry arrives in 
bad condition he may even get less, and besides, he has had the 
trouble of dressing it. There are times, too, mostly at Jewish 
holiday seasons, when poultry (particularly fowls) may sell for 
more money alive than dressed. In general, the small producer 
can dress his poultry to advantage only for private trade and when 
the quality is choice. Small, odd lots and inferior birds will usually 
net him more if sold alive to a home buyer than if shipped dressed 
to a distant market. Selling at home, he rarely fails to get, on the 
spot, all that the stock is worth, and he has no further risks in con- 
nection with it. A great deal of misunderstanding in regard to 
this point comes from comparisons of prices for unassorted, ordi- 
nary, or inferior stock at the producing point with prices of the best 
stock in a distant retail market. Such comparisons, when fairly 
made, are serviceable, showing the advantage of producing good 
poultry and marketing it in first-class condition. As statements of 
conditions, with the inference that the producer selling his birds alive 
loses the greater part of the difference between the price that he 
received and the price that the consumer paid, they are misleading. 
Feathers. Buyers of poultry sometimes collect feathers, but in 
many places there is no local buyer. In that case the best way to 
dispose of them is to get the addresses of feather buyers from 
provision-trade papers and communicate with them in regard to 
prices and instructions for shipping. These houses will buy feathers 
of all kinds and in any quantity. 


Manure. Poultry manure was long salable (at high prices) for 
tanning purposes, but the use of chemicals for tanning has greatly 
reduced the demand for it. In some places men still make a 
business of collecting poultry manure, but at present prices it is 
worth more for fertilizer, and unless methods are highly intensive, 
it is more valuable to the poultry keeper for that purpose than for 
any other. When manure is sold for fertilizing purposes the price 
depends altogether on the buyer's needs and on his appreciation 
of its value. Poultrymen who use it on land consider it at least equal 
in value to the highest-priced commercial fertilizers designed for 
general use. 

Cooperative selling of poultry products. As it relates to poultry, 
cooperation is in the experimental stage in America. In view of 
the nature of the industry, the general conditions of trade, and 
the difficulties in the way of any wide cooperative movement, it 
must be regarded as highly improbable that much will be accom- 
plished in this direction except as a part of the development of 
cooperation in marketing farm products of all kinds. The situa- 
tion with respect to poultry, a crop which, produced everywhere, 
is being harvested all the year round and yielding quite a variety 
of products not easily preserved,. is unlike the situation in handling 
fall fruits harvested in a short season and stored for months with 
slight deterioration, shrinkage, or loss. The most that can be said 
of the most advanced coSperative movements in 'selling poultry is 
that they make some progress. With this it should be said that 
nearly all cooperative movements in this line everywhere have been 
subsidized either by actual government grants or through the serv- 
ices, as promoters, of persons compensated not by the producers but 
by the government or by some organization with educational aims. 

A large degree of practical cooperation is attained in some 
poultry-producing communities, notably in the South Shore soft- 
roaster district, where, it should be noted, the crop is sold within 
a short season. A study of conditions in such a district as this 
shows plainly that a cooperative selling movement will be most 
stable when it develops as a part of an industry largely cooper- 
ative throughout. In this case there is no formal organization or 
corporation. The transactions between producers and dealers are 
on the same basis as in the ordinary course of trade, but the 


producers, though independent, are all engaged in " making" the 
same line of goods and in trying to make their product of uni- 
formly high quality ; and the middleman, dealing fairly by them, 
increases his own profits, not by taking from the producer as large 
a proportion of the^price as possible, but by making a fair division 
of profits and thus encouraging the extension of the industry and 
enlarging the volume of his own trade. 

Uniformity of product is the basis of cooperative selling. Lack- 
ing this, no cooperative movement can be self-sustaining. With 
uniformity of product and a sufficient volume of it, there comes a 
strong tendency toward practical cooperation in selling, which gives 
the producer all the advantages that he would gain by a purely 
cooperative system of disposing of products. Given conditions 
favorable to such cooperation, the form of the selling system is 
of less importance than the spirit of the parties interested. The 
case mentioned was selected as most strikingly typical. Something 
of the same conditions may be found wherever a particular branch 
of poultry culture is followed by many persons in a community. 



Hygiene and sanitation. Hygiene and sanitation are closely 
related topics, practically inseparable in a treatise of this kind. 
Hygiene relates more particularly to health and the preservation of 
health in creatures ; sanitation relates more particularly to the main- 
tenance of healthful conditions of environment. As the principal 
phases of these topics in their relation to poultry have been dis- 
cussed incidentally in preceding chapters, we need here introduce 
only a brief discussion of the common ills and faults of poultry. 

The general observance of rules of hygiene and sanitation is of 
vastly greater importance, both to the poultry keeper individually 
and in its effect on general conditions in poultry culture, than spe- 
cific knowledge of the causes, symptoms, and treatments of dis- 
eases, for attention to hygienic and sanitary conditions is a general 
preventive and salutary measure by which we not only ward off 
disease but remedy most of the diseases which may be profitably 
treated, and keep stock in the most profitable physical condition. 
Correct hygiene and sanitation are a part of good practice in poultry 
keeping. Special consideration and treatment of diseases become 
necessary only when conditions are wrong or when practice is at 
fault. Individual treatment is usually not profitable because of the 
small value of the birds. In general, a knowledge of poultry diseases 
is directly useful to poultrymen only for the determination and 
correction of wrong conditions of hygiene and sanitation. 

Indications of disease or of a low physical condition are, to 
those who can apprehend them, unmistakable signs of weakness 
in the stock, or improper conditions or errors in handling. Gen- 
eral symptoms show that there is something wrong. Just what is 
wrong is not likely to be evident from symptoms except in cases 
where a symptom is peculiar to a disease or to a small group of 
similar disorders. When no special symptoms can be detected, the 
disease can rarely be positively identified, and we have to turn 



from the observation of symptoms to the investigation of condi- 
tions, examine systematically into matters of hygiene and sanita- 
tion, mark every wrong condition as a possible cause of trouble, 
and correct that condition, whether the trouble can be directly 
connected with it or not. 

Causes of disease. The causes of disease are (i) constitutional 
(arising from defects of the organism) ; (2) dietetic (caused by 
improper food and feeding) ; (3) environmental (due to improper 
surroundings) ; (4) contagious (communicated by contact). It is not 
necessary to discuss these exhaustively. Only a few of the more 
important of each class need be mentioned. Causes of disease are 
not always clearly referable to one of these classes. A single cause 
acting independently rarely produces disease, but it may open the 
way for the operation of other causes. In such a case it may not 
be clear which is the primary cause, but that point is immaterial. 

Constitutional causes of disease. Defects of the organism are 
of two kinds : congenital (or inherited) and functional (or spon- 
taneous). A creature may have a constitution generally weak or 
defective in some respect because one or more of its ancestors 
had. As a rule, it will not have a sound constitution unless its 
immediate parents have sound constitutions. No matter how good 
the constitution may have been originally, it may be impaired, either 
at some point or as a whole, by accident, or by overworking an 
organ, or through any external disease-producing cause, and never 
regain its full tone though the conditions which caused the trouble 
are removed and a decided improvement follows. In such cases 
the functional weakness continues as a latent condition favorable 
to the operation of the causes of disease. The most prevalent 
constitutional cause of disease is debility, or low vitality, increasing 
from generation to generation in stocks kept under highly arti- 
ficial conditions. 

Dietetic causes of disease. Poor quality of food, ill-balanced 
rations, overfeeding, underfeeding, and irregular feeding are the 
principal dietetic causes of disease. As was shown in discussing 
the relations of methods of feeding to other factors in the manage- 
ment of poultry, the same ration may be, under some conditions, 
good, under others, bad ; suitable for one bird, not suitable for an- 
other ; useful for a special purpose or up to a certain point, as in 


fattening, but dangerous if too long continued. Poisons also are in 
this class of causes of diseases. 

Enviromental causes of disease. Errors in locating poultry houses 
and yards, faults in construction and regulation of poultry houses, 
unsanitary conditions in houses and yards, errors in incubation and 
brooding, disturbances affecting comfort and regularity of life (such 
as rough treatment by attendants and fright by passing persons or 
animals), are the common environmental causes of disease in poultry. 

Contagious diseases. Epidemics, as a rule, make little trouble 
among healthy flocks kept under good sanitary conditions. Some 
of the most virulent (as cholera, fowl typhoid, and bacterial enter- 
itis) sometimes seem to be equally dangerous to all kinds of stock 
under all conditions, but in view of the general absence of con- 
tagious diseases from plants where conditions are good, and of 
the efficacy of proper attention to hygiene and sanitation in stamp- 
ing out contagion, it may well be doubted whether even the germs 
of such contagious diseases are dangerous to poultry that are sound 
in constitution and living in proper surroundings. When epidemics 
of roup and enteritis break out, they are usually attributed to con- 
tagion, but contagion seems to be effective only when other causes 
prepare the way for it. Scaly leg and various skin diseases are 
plainly transmitted in some cases, yet in nearly all affected flocks 
some individuals are immune. 

Symptoms of disease. Indications of disease are general (com- 
mon to many diseases) and special (peculiar to certain diseases). 

General symptoms of disease are of much more importance to 
the poultry keeper than are special symptoms, except in cases where 
the special symptom appears at first or at any early stage and is 
plainly marked, as in skin and in some throat and lung 
troubles. General symptoms are negative rather than positive, in- 
dicating lack of health, or of perfect health, rather than the pres- 
ence of any specific disease. As control of disease depends largely 
upon detecting it in the first stages and promptly using corrective 
measures, it is of much more importance that the poultry keeper 
should have a keen appreciation of the signs of health, and be 
quick to observe any failing in them, than that he should know 
the pronounced symptoms of diseases, for in a large proportion of 
cases a disease cannot be identified by symptoms until it is so far 



advanced that treatment is useless or unprofitable. The general 
symptoms most readily marked are weakness and inactivity, a 
drooping attitude, and a dull color and dull expression of the head. 
Diarrhea is present in many cases. 

Special symptoms plain to ordinary observation are head and 
foot symptoms, and irregularities in the actions and in the dis- 
charges of the birds. When proper allowance is made for paleness 
associated with inactivity of the organs of reproduction, the color of 
the comb is a fairly reliable index of health. A yellowish comb indi- 
cates biliousness ; a pale comb is the sign of an anemic condition, 
and suggests examination for symptoms of enteritis or tuberculosis, 
or for lice ; a dark comb indicates a plethoric condition, defective cir- 
culation, and sometimes congestion, as in bronchitis or pneumonia. 
Yellow warts on the face and comb occur in chicken pox. Yellow- 
ish-white, cheesy lumps about the eyes, nostrils, and corners of the 
mouth are more likely to indicate roupy catarrh. A watery dis- 
charge from the nostrils may be nothing more serious than a com- 
mon cold. Neglected, such a cold may develop into roup, with 
thicker discharge and perhaps accumulations of cheesy matter. 
White or grayish patches inside the mouth, especially when the 
odor is very offensive, indicate diphtheritic roup. Head symptoms 
are particularly important, because so many of them have more than 
local significance. Foot symptoms are direct symptoms of local 
trouble, such as scaly leg, corns, and bumblefoot. To the lay ob- 
server vent discharges are very unreliable symptoms, hardly to be 
classed as special symptoms for him, though to a veterinary they 
may be very useful. 

General treatment of disease. The practical and profitable way 
for a poultry keeper to treat disease in his flocks is by general 
salutary measures ; birds too far gone to respond to these are 
rarely worth saving. Such local troubles as scaly leg, injuries like 
frostbite, and combs damaged in fighting, may be given attention 
in the case of individual birds that are particularly valuable, but for 
the great majority of such cases the best thing to do is to remove 
the cause or the bird from the cause and let nature work re- 
covery. It is possible to cure a large proportion even of very serious 
cases of sickness in poultry by giving good nursing with suitable 
medicinal treatment, the nursing being the more important ; but 


it usually costs more than the birds are worth, besides monopolizing 
time and attention that should be given (then, more than at any 
other time) to careful consideration of general conditions in the flock, 
and to the adoption of salutary measures applying to the whole 
flock. An occasional case of disease has no general significance, 
but anything resembling an epidemic shows that some of the gen- 
eral causes of disease are operative. Disease on such a scale is the 
penalty for mistakes, and especially. for neglect to keep up the con- 
stitutional vitality of the stock and to maintain right hygienic and 
sanitary conditions. No amount of doctoring, however effective at 
the time, will give permanent relief. The only advantage that a 
poultryman has in knowing diseases is that he knows the causes, 
and is thus able to follow the old medical maxim, " Remove the 
cause and the effects will cease." It is a matter of common remark 
among poultrymen that the more one doctors, the more he will 
have to doctor. 

Injuries. Accidents cannot be wholly avoided, but damage from 
such causes is insignificant. Injuries due to environmental causes 
must be prevented by dealing with those causes as with causes of 
disease. One of the most important of these is crooked breastbone 
in fowls. Thousands of cases of this are developed by allowing 
young chicks to roost (by day, usually) on narrow-edged boards, 
on the edges of boxes and barrels, and in like places. This is not 
the sole cause of crooked breasts, but is a common cause which is 
easily avoided. Another very common injury is frostbite of combs 
and wattles. This is best avoided by keeping fowls that are adapted 
to the climate, but much can be done in the way of prevention by 
accustoming the birds to low temperature, by giving dry feed only 
in zero weather, and by giving snow or finely cracked ice instead 
of water when it is so cold that water freezes quickly. Warm 
water should not be given. 

Internal parasites. Worms are the most troublesome internal 
parasites of poultry. The gapeworm infests the windpipe. It is 
dangerous only to young chickens. Tapeworms and roundworms 
of many varieties infest all kinds of poultry, being found mostly 
in the intestines and digestive organs. When present in small 
numbers they do little damage to strong, robust birds, and do not 
often multiply dangerously when sanitary conditions are good. 



When a stock of poultry becomes badly infested with worms, the 
numbers of the parasites which may simultaneously attack a strong 
bird may be so great that its strength is of little advantage. In 
such cases it is advisable to kill off all stock and keep no poultry 
on the land for several years. Stock from a badly infected flock, 
if taken to new land, carries the worms with it. 

External parasites. Lice are often referred to as enemies against 
which the poultry keeper must wage unremitting warfare. This 
view exaggerates the importance of direct personal efforts to keep 
these parasites in subjection. There are two general classes of lice, 
those which live upon the birds and those which only feed upon 
them, remaining at other times in crevices about the roosts and 
nests. Neither kind does perceptible damage when present in 
small numbers, or multiplies too rapidly on adult birds when sani- 
tary conditions are good, when the birds are vigorous, and when 
ample opportunity is given them to " dust " themselves. Some live 
on dead skin and feather particles. Very few birds are absolutely 
free from lice, even when treated regularly with insecticides. 

The presence of lice in small numbers on' the bodies of poultry 
is by some authorities considered beneficial. They rarely become 
seriously detrimental to any strong stock kept under favorable con- 
ditions. Treatment for them should be necessary only on incubat- 
ing poultry, on young birds when very small, and on old ones when 
confined without opportunity to free themselves from lice. Con- 
tinued necessity for fighting lice shows plainly that some other con- 
dition needs attention. It may be the vitality of the stock ; it may 
be the sanitary conditions ; it may be that, once allowed to establish 
themselves, the lice, though constantly fought, have never been 
effectively treated (this is the case especially with red mites, which 
secrete themselves about the roosts). For lice on poultry, dry insec- 
ticides (powdered) are used ; for lice about roosts, nests, and 
buildings, liquid insecticides are applied freely to infested places. 

Vices. The bad habits of poultry are developed almost wholly in 
close confinement under unsatisfactory conditions. Feather eating, 
egg eating, and various forms of cannibalism common among 
closely confined poultry are rarely seen among poultry at liberty 
amid favorable surroundings, and give comparatively little trouble 
among closely confined birds if the conditions are sanitary and the 


birds have something to occupy their attention. Feeding in littered 
floors, supplying dry ground grains in hoppers, and giving cabbages, 
mangels, and dried meat and fish, all help to prevent vices by giving 
the birds something to do and to think about. Vices once started 
spread rapidly. The only effective way to suppress them is by im- 
proving the conditions. Sometimes a change of quarters and the 
removal of the worst offenders will stop a bad habit not too firmly 
established. The reliable cure is right conditions and (if necessary) 
special attention to keeping the birds busy until they forget the 
objectionable practice. 




Original type of the domestic fowl. The only known wild 
birds of the same species as the domestic fowl are the little jungle 
fowls of India and Ceylon. One of these, the Callus Bankiva, is 
by many considered the ancestor of all the numerous and diverse 
races of fowls. This view .rests more on argument than on evi- 
dence, and the argument is far from conclusive. The strongest 
points in its favor are that the jungle fowls are the only known 
wild birds of the species, and that the Callus Bankiva closely 
resembles the domestic Black- Red Game Bantam. There is very 
little accurate knowledge of the jungle fowls. Considering the 
difficulty of getting full information in regard to matters more 
recent than the first domestication of fowls and more ascertainable 
than the facts as to the modern jungle fowls, the conclusions of 
naturalists and the rather casual observations of fanciers and others 
on this point, together with the few far from satisfactory experi- 
ments made in India with jungle and domestic fowls and their 
crosses, carry little weight with the careful student of poultry cul- 
ture. On either economic or evolutionary grounds it is much more 
reasonable to assume that the domestic and the jungle fowls are 
descended from a common ancestor, probably intermediate in size 
between jungle fowls and ordinary unimproved domestic stock. 
Unlike the wild ancestors of the duck, goose, and turkey, the little 
jungle fowl is not economically attractive to man and does not 
readily adapt itself to domestication or quickly improve in economic 
qualities under domestic conditions. It seems to be an established 
fact that, in the countries that they inhabit, the male jungle fowls 
in freedom breed readily with domestic hens wandering from the vil- 
lages. The female jungle fowl is naturally less bold in approaching 



human habitations, and even should connections with domestic cocks 
occur, the results would not be so readily observed. In captivity 
jungle fowls of both sexes are shy breeders, the females especially 
so ; but to a poultry breeder familiar with many instances of the 
effects of changes in location, diet, and habits of life on fertility 
conclusions on this point drawn from wild birds in captivity and 
from their immediate descendants have little significance. 

Economically the presumption is that with fowls, as with other 
poultry, the wild type as first brought into domestication was in 
itself desirable, and that some, perhaps the greater number, of the 
wild stock were of docile disposition. The desirability of such 
individuals would quickly lead to their domestication or extermina- 
tion. The smallest and wildest specimens of the race would escape 
capture, or perhaps return to wild life to avoid man more carefully 
than before. Because of their lack of economic value he would 
refrain from pursuing these, but the larger or more venturesome 
would be constantly exposed to his attacks. The inevitable results 
of such conditions in a favorable environment would be the de- 
velopment of a race of fowls less valuable and less adapted to 
domestication than the. original type. 

Considering the case from the economic point of view, there is 
little reason to suppose that primitive man domesticated such a 
fowl as the jungle fowl of to-day. The antiquity and wide distribu- 
tion of game types have led some to infer that fowls were first 
domesticated for the amusement rather than for the use of man, 
but the domestication of fowls evidently occurred centuries earlier 
than the earliest authentic records of game fowls. Combining the 
economic and evolutionist points of view, the theory that the 
domestic fowls of all varieties, and the jungle fowls as well, are 
descended from a common ancestor becomes much more plausi- 
ble than the commonly accepted theory. On this theory, and con- 
sidering what is known or may be reasonably inferred in regard 
to the differentiation of types in domestication, the original type 
may be constructed with sufficient accuracy to afford an initial type 
from which all the others have been developed. Such a type must 
be assumed at the outset, and the value of the assumption demon- 
strated incidentally in the course of the presentation of the his- 
tories and descriptions of popular types. Hence it is assumed that 


the original type of domestic fowl was a bird of about the size 
of the partridge or the pheasant ; in shape, approaching the game 
type yet not presenting that type as developed with pit qualities ; 
in color, of the black-red or brown-red type ; with small single comb 
and no superfluous plumage. 

Birds of this type are often seen in mongrel flocks showing no 
marked traces of the principal improved types. The general shape 
and size of small mongrels is probably much the same as that of 
the original stock, though color is more various. Even such breeds 
as the Leghorns, Hamburgs, and Polish closely resemble this 
original, except in color and superficial features. 

Types of domestic fowls. The number of varieties of fowls is 
so great, and the development of characters so irregular, that it 
is not possible to make a simple classification in which the place 
of each variety is readily assigned. A simple classification requires 
that the grouping of classes be according to economic characters, 
which are few in number and relatively stable, rather than accord- 
ing to superficial characters, which are many and constantly 
changing. Scientific classification must be consistent. A primary 
classification on a geographical * basis is obviously absurd, leading 
to all sorts of inconsistencies, but regular differences in type in 
different countries may properly be indicated in secondary divi- 
sions. With further subdivision based on superficial characters, 
a classification fundamentally simple and consistent will include 
nearly all well-defined types. 

This plan of classification gives five distinct general types of 
fowls, to which may be referred all but two varieties with plumage 
of abnormal structure, for which a sixth class is made. The basis 
of the classification being economic, the common economic terms 

1 The classification adopted by the American Poultry Association for the 
Standard of Perfection is geographic (breeds being classified according to the 
country in which they originated or from which they were introduced) and 
patriotic (American breeds being given first), but utterly unscientific and tending 
to confuse, not to clarify, conceptions of type. In such classification, homogeneity 
is wholly dependent upon chance. In some cases (as in the American class) 
the class is homogeneous because, on the principle adopted, incomplete ; in 
others (as the English class) there is no homogeneity. The absurdity of such 
classification becomes plain when representatives of all breeds and varieties 
are arranged according to it. This system of arrangement is rarely used a second 
time at a poultry show. 


descriptive of classes of fowls are 
used for the classes to which they 
apply. We have, then, the follow- 
ing general types of fowls : (i) game 
types, (2) laying types, (3) meat 
types, (4) general-purpose types, 
(5) deformed types, (6) bantams. 

Game types. While, as has been 
said, it is not probable that fowls 
were domesticated for the sport of 
fighting the cocks, it is certain that 
in domestication the pugnacity and 
gameness of the cock led to the 
early development of a fighting 
type, possessed of great courage, 

strength, and endurance, of very 
FIG. T.2Q. Aseel Game cock. (Photo- r -, r .-, , 

graph from Dr. H.P.Clarke, Indian- compact form, close-feathered or 

apolis, Indiana) short-feathered, with no superfluous 

appendages. Ancient records of 

various kinds hieroglyphics, coins, vases show the wide dis- 
tribution of this type. From early times to within a century, 
cockfighting seems to 
have been everywhere 
a popular pastime. In 
modern times it has been 
outlawed among civi- 
lized and humane peo- 
ples. Though not yet 
wholly suppressed, even 
in England and Amer- 
ica, public sentiment is 
so strongly against it, 
the risks of detection are 
so great, and the pen- 
alties are so impartially 
applied, that even the 

advocates of the sport 
recognize that it must 

FIG. 330. Old English Game cock. (Photo- 
graph from owner, W. F. Liedtke, Meriden, 



FIG. 331. Cornish Indian Game hen. 

Forest City Cornish yards, Shawnee, 


soon cease absolutely. Whatever 
may be said of the humanity and 
morality of cockfighting, there is no 
doubt that indirectly the results of 
breeding for the pit were beneficial 
to poultry culture, the requirements 
of the cockpit compelling an atten- 
tion to strength and vitality too often 
neglected when qualities not imme- 
diately dependent upon them are 
sought. As would be expected from 
the attention given to breeding fight- 
ing fowls, some most pronounced 
utility types are plainly derived 
through modifications of this type. 
After the prohibition of cockfight- 
ing some breeders developed an 

exaggerated game type for exhibi- 
tion. The fighting types as devel- 
oped in different countries vary 
considerably. Only the two most im- 
portant, the Aseel and the English 
Game, need be considered here. 
These, with the Malay, the Cornish 
Indian Game, and the modern Ex- 
hibition Game constitute the game 
types of interest to the student of 
poultry culture. 

The Aseel (or Azeel), " the true 
fighting Game of India," is a small 
bird very strong in frame and so 
short of feather that the plumage 
does not conceal the lines of the form 
as in birds with longer plumage. It 
combines, more than any other fowl, 
great muscular development with 
strong bone. Aseels are of various 
colors and have pea combs. 

FIG. 332. Front view of Cornish 

Indian Game cockerel. Forest City 

Cornish yards 


The English Game, by some now called Thoroughbred Game, 
is the type of fighting game familiar nearly everywhere among 
English-speaking peoples. It is a larger bird than the Aseel (the 
males sometimes weighing 6 and 7 pounds), has longer plumage, 
and abundant tail and hackle in the male, and is a more symmetri- 
cal bird, more alert, and generally more attractive. This race is of 
many colors, black-reds 1 and brown-reds being most abundant. 
Some stocks have been bred to a fixed color pattern, others have 

FIG. 333. Three-quarters rear view of FIG. 334. Three-quarters front- view of 
bird in Fig. 332 bird in Fig. 332 2 

not. The comb is small and single. But for the pugnacity of the 
males, which develops at a surprisingly early age, they make very 
good fowls for either a farm or family flock, not as good as 
special utility breeds but much better than ordinary mongrel stock. 
The hens are good layers and especially good sitters and mothers, 
being noted for the courage with which they defend their young. 
As table fowls they are meaty but rather close-grained and hard. 

1 Short for " black-breasted red," a description applied to the cock of this 
color type, though as a matter of fact the typically colored male is all black ex- 
cept the neck and back, which are red, and would be more correctly described as 
" red-backed black." z Photographs for Figs. 331-334 from owner. 



FIG. 335. White Cornish Indian Game cock. (Photo- 
graph from owner, Frank Brown, Marblehead, Mass.) 

pounds ; pullet, 5! pounds. These weights 
exceeded, cocks weighing as 
high as 1 1 and 1 2 pounds. 
Though of pronounced game 
type these birds are usually 
classed as a meat or table breed. 
The meat is very abundant, 
especially on breast and legs. 
They are reputed rather poor 
layers of small, light-brown 
eggs. There are three color 
varieties, dark, white, and red- 
laced. The dark variety are of 

The Cornish In- 
dian Game x was 
produced in England 
about 1830 to 1840, 
by crossing the Aseel 
on the English Game, 
and (it is supposed) 
was improved many 
years later by the in- 
troduction of Malay 
blood. In appearance 
a giant Aseel, it has 
little of the fighting 
quality of that breed. 
The American Stand- 
ard weights are cock, 
9 pounds ; hen, 6J 
pounds ; cockerel, 7i 
are very commonly 

FIG. 336. White Cornish Indian Game hen 
(Photograph from owner, Frank Brown) 

1 I have retained this name as most 
appropriate most suggestive of the 
relation of this to other types. In 
England the breed is known simply 
as the Indian Game. In America it 

went by that name first but later was called Cornish Indian Game ; recently some 
breeders, hoping to increase the popularity of the breed by eliminating the term 
" game " from its name, have taken to calling it simply Cornish. 


FIG. 337. Red-Laced Cornish Indian Game cock. (Pho- 
tograph from owner, W. H. Card, Bristol, Connecticut) 

the black-red color 
type, the males 
black and red in 
hackle, back, and 
saddle, and the fe- 
males a mahogany 
bay penciled with 
black. The white 
variety have all- 
white plumage. 
The red-laced have 
plumage of white 
ground, edged with 
dark buff or red. 
The Indian Game 
is a mixture of 
game types from 
Asia and Europe. 

The white and the red-laced varieties were made in America. 

The Malay Game is entirely of Asiatic origin. Whether the 
type was developed directly by selection from other Asiatic games, 
or by mixture with Asiatic 
types other than game, is not 
known. It is taller and less 
compactly built than the Indian 
Game, suggesting alliance with 
Cochins and Brahmas of the 
type first brought to America. 
American Standard weights are 
cock, 9 pounds ; cockerel, 7 
pounds ; hen, 7 pounds ; pullet, 
5 pounds. The full-grown male 
of standard weight should be 
26 inches high ; the female, 
1 8 inches. Malays are rarely 
seen in this country. Their 

. * FIG. 338. Red-Laced Cornish Indian 

principal interest to the StU- Game hen. (Photograph from owner, 
dent is in the suggestion of W. H. Card) 


FIG. 339. Red-Laced Cornish Indian 

Game cockerel. (Photograph from 

owner, W. H. Card) 

Laying types, 
term "egg type" was defined, and 
the Mediterranean, Dutch, and Polish 
groups were mentioned as illustrations 
of that type. These breeds are all of 
the same general conformation and, 
with a few exceptions, about the same 
in size. The differences between them 
are differences in color of plumage 
and skin, and in development of head 
appurtenances. Consideration of this 
type as a whole shows that geographi- 
cally it is a European type, of all 
Europe rather than of any part of it, 
though superficial characters (as would 
be expected) have been developed dif- 


connection between the game 
type and the Brahma and Co- 
chin types. In America they 
are of the black-red pattern. 
The modern Exhibition 
Game was developed from the 
English type of pit game, with 
probably some infusion of Malay 
blood. The prominent charac- 
teristic of this type is the ex- 
aggerated length of neck and 
legs. The standard colors are 
black-red, brown-red, golden 
duckwing, silver duckwing, 
birchen, red pile, white, and 
black. In common with most 
other types which have some 
feature greatly exaggerated, 
they are at present somewhat 
out of favor with poultrymen. 
In Chapter V the 

FIG. 340. Exhibition Game hen 

f ,i I i /< i i , -T 1U. S4U. EiAUlUiUUll VJctlllC 11C11 

ferently by different peoples, and (as owne J d 4 by w . H> Mudge> Wes . 
will be shown) modifications in the terly, Rhode Island 


direction of a meat type were made in some cases. Of these 
breeds and their varieties, a brown Leghorn with small single 
comb comes nearest (and very near) the assumed initial type, 
and also resembles the black-breasted red game fowl. On this 
account, and because, also, of the extent to which indications of 
Leghorn blood now appear in ordinary stock in almost all parts 
of Europe, some suppose that the Italian, or Leghorn, is the 
foundation stock of all European races. This is not impossible. 
It is even highly probable that the Romans introduced their fowls 
wherever they went in the period of their conquests, and that these 
introductions sometimes influenced the native stock. But certain 
general differences in the laying type as it was developed along 
the Mediterranean, and as developed along a more northerly route 
westward, are significant, suggesting differences in ideals going 
much farther back than the Roman conquests. These differences 
will appear from the descriptions of the European breeds of the 
laying type. Before describing these, something should be said of 
their ancestry. 

The early laying type. The common native stock in all parts 
of the world except southeastern Asia seems to have been, from 
earliest times, of the initial type described, having this type slightly 
modified, sometimes for the better, by the influence of the game 
type, or by careful selection for egg or meat qualities, or by good 
care, and sometimes for the worse by indifferent breeding and 
neglect, but almost invariably lacking in distinctive characteristics. 
Of this character, according to accounts, are most of the fowls 
throughout western Asia, northern Africa, and southeastern Europe 
to-day, and there is no evidence that they have ever been different. 

Laying breeds. Along the Mediterranean Sea the fowls present 
a general uniformity of type not so noticeable elsewhere on the 
continent of Europe. The type is not only uniform but is more 
simple than the other European types to be considered, the more 
elaborate modifications of superficial characters in some of the 
Mediterranean breeds familiar to modern poultry keepers having 
been developed in breeds of Mediterranean derivation in north- 
western Europe. As developed in Italy and Spain the so-called 
Mediterranean fowls were, and still are, very like what would 
naturally be developed from an initial type (such as has been 



assumed), under the climatic conditions found there, by people 
paying little attention to either meat qualities, fighting qualities, 
or color markings. The most striking peculiarity of these fowls 
was a large, fleshy single comb, not always present in all individuals 
of any of the breeds, but often highly developed in specimens of 
them all. 

From Turkey westward through southern Russia, Germany, 
Holland, Belgium, and France, fowls of the same general body 
type and simple furnishings were common, but among them there 
appeared, in large numbers in some localities, and in occasional 
flocks almost everywhere, two other conspicuous types, a rose- 
combed type and a crested type, in both of which were developed 
more elaborate color patterns than were found among the fowls 
along the Mediterranean. The sharp differentiation of color pat- 
terns and the high development of other features are the work of 
the modern fancier, but though we have little accurate knowledge 
of the earlier history of the breeds which he took in their crude 
form and developed, what we have indicates that the separation of 
types began very early in the westward movement of the human 
race, and that interest in the manipulation of form and color in 
poultry must have been from earliest times, as to-day, more in- 
tense in the Teutonic than in other branches of the race. Breeds 
of this type were early developed in France and England, modified 
especially for meat production but still unmistakably like the com- 
mon type. In almost every country of Europe there are breeds 
of this same body type but unlike in such characters as comb, 
crest, color, etc. Most of these are hardly known outside of the 
countries or districts where they are found, and there is little au- 
thentic information about their origin and history. In discussing 
the laying breeds the familiar ones will be considered first, quite 
fully and in the order of their apparent relation to the primitive 
type. The unfamiliar ones will be treated very briefly, to show the 
extent and variety of the class. 

The Mediterranean division of the laying type. The Mediter- 
ranean group has now two principal subdivisions, the Italian and 
the Spanish. Just how far characteristic differences between Italian 
and Spanish types are due to selection and modification in modern 
times is uncertain, but it seems probable that differences in color 


of plumage, skin, and feet are race characteristics. As found to- 
day in their native countries the fowls of Spain are, on the whole, 
larger than those of Italy. The most significant general difference 
between them is the color of skin and legs, the Italian fowls having 
a yellow skin and leg (the Black Leghorn, yellow and black), while 
the Spanish have white or gray skin with flesh-colored or slate- 
colored legs. In Spain there seems to have been, for a long time, 
a decided preference for black plumage, and that is said to prepon- 
derate in the native breeds there to-day. In Italy little attention 
seems to have been given to differentiating color types. Most of 
the modern varieties of Leghorns have been produced in America 
and England from Italian foundation stock. 

Leghorns, as Italian fowls are called 1 in this country and among 
English-speaking peoples generally, are said to have been first 
introduced into America in 18 3 5 . Those first brought here attracted 
little attention. In 1853 another importation was made, and de- 
veloped some interest in the type. Subsequently a few more lots 
were brought from Italy, but, so far as known, importations were 
not numerous, nor was the total number of birds imported large. 
In the early importations were brown, white, buff, and black 
specimens, and possibly other colors, but only the brown, white, 
and black varieties were developed from stock brought in at this 
period. As introduced from Italy the Leghorns had generally, if 
not exclusively, single combs, and that type of comb has, from the 
time of their introduction, been far more popular than the rose 
comb developed (as is generally supposed) by infusions of Ham- 
burg blood. The ear lobes in the first imported stock were red 
or partly red. 

In size the ordinary Leghorn is small. No standards of weight 
have been established. Average specimens weigh, at maturity, 
males, from 4 to 4! pounds ; females, about 3 pounds. The largest 
individuals in average flocks exceed these weights, and when bred 
for size the average is easily increased from I to 2^ pounds. 
Occasional specimens weigh more, sometimes equaling in size the 
average of the middle-weight breeds. 

The American Standard type of Leghorn is a finely modeled, 
graceful, sprightly fowl, with the characteristic large comb, wattles, 

1 Because introduced from the port of Leghorn. 



and ear lobes of the Medi- 
terranean class, and of size 
and form appropriate to the 
style of the bird. The ear 
lobes are white or creamy 
white in color. While the 
body plumage is not as 
short as that of game fowls, 
the race is close feathered, 
with large wings and tails. 
The shanks and feet are 
smooth, the number of toes 
normal, four on each foot. 
The English type of 
Leghorn is larger than the 
American, and meatier, ap- 
proaching the Dorking type, 
while large Leghorns on 

the lines of the American type are more like Minorcas in shape. 
The varieties of Leghorns take their names from the colors of 
their plumage, the subvarieties from the form of the comb. 

Brown Leghorns (single- 
comb and rose-comb) have the 
black-red color pattern, The 
early Brown Leghorns were 
quite light in color, and were 
sometimes called red. 1 The 
American Standard exhibition 
male has the red very rich in 
tone, with hackle and saddle 
feathers cleanly striped with 
black. Females of like breed- 
ing, the natural color mates 
of such males, are very dark 

FIG. 341. Single-Comb Brown Leghorn 

cockerel, Grove Hill poultry yards, 

Waltham, Massachusetts 

brown, their darkest shades 
often black or nearly so, and 

FIG. 342. Single-Comb Brown Leg- 
horn pullet, Grove Hill poultry 
yards, Waltham, Massachusetts 

1 As recently as the early nineties I have heard the name " Red Leghorn " 
applied to ordinary Brown Leghorns. 


not to be compared in beauty of color with the exhibition female. 
The Standard female has a ground color of light brown, with 
black tail, dark-brown flight feathers, a fine stippling of dark brown 
on the back and wings, the breast salmon and the hackle orange 
yellow with black stripe. The male of the same breeding is very 
much lighter in color than the exhibition male, a lighter red, 
usually with less striping in the hackle and saddle, and the black of 
the breast and body more or 
less mottled or bronzed with 
red. In reality the Brown 
Leghorn has two color vari- 
eties, dark and light. The 
Standard describes the male 
of the dark and the female of 
the light variety, and these 
are shown together in the exhi- 
bition pen. They are chosen, 
not as matching in color, 
like the exhibition Barred 
Plymouth Rocks, but as show- 
ing the finest color develop- 
ments in the different sexes. 
Brown Leghorns are some- 
times bred to secure standard 
specimens of both sexes from 
the same mating, and when 
so bred, in time give a third intermediate color variety, specimens 
of which often closely approximate Standard requirements, though 
in general they have little chance of winning in competition with 
birds of the other lines. 

Buff Leghorns (single-comb and rose-comb). That among early 
importations of Leghorns there were more of the yellow, or buff, 
than of the brown-red shade seems certain, though little interest 
was taken in them at that time. Buff Leghorns were shown under 
that name in America in 1867, more than twenty years before the 
modern Buff Leghorn began to be developed in England, but they 
made so little impression that the variety soon disappeared, and 
even the fact of their existence was forgotten until records of their 

FIG. 343. Rose-Comb Brown Leghorn 
cockerel. (Photograph from owner, 
W. W. Kulp, Pottstown, Pennsylvania) 



FIG. 344. Single-Comb Buff Leghorn cock 

(Photograph from owner, H. M. Lamon, 

Washington, D. C.) 

exhibition were found a 
few years since. About 
1888 the modern Buff 
Leghorn was introduced 
into England from Den- 
mark, with the color in 
very crude condition. The 
Danish stock undoubtedly 
came originally from Italy, 
where buff or yellow birds 
are often seen, but of its 
history in Denmark little 
is known. It is said l that 
in England the Buff Co- 
chin was at once effec- 
tively used to improve 
the color. The first birds 

brought to America were, with few exceptions, far from being of 
the uniform shade of golden buff 
required by the Standard. Both 
white and black were prevalent 
in wings and tail, and the males 

1 Though the authority for this is good 
and in accord with common opinion, my 
own experience with Buff Leghorns leads 
me to doubt whether, if Cochins were used, 
their influence extended to all the stock or 
was as great as was supposed. The first 
importations from Denmark to England 
were made in 1888. The cross with the 
Cochin was made in that year or in the 
following year. The first importation to 
America was made in 1890. In 1893 I FIG. 345. Rose-Comb Buff Leghorn 
bought eggs of this strain, and bred it until hen. (Photograph from owner, II. J. 
1899. In the seasons of 1894, 1895, and Fisk ' Falconer, New York) 

1896 I reared, in all, about 1500 birds of 

this variety, and in that number no specimen appeared which at all suggested 
Cochin ancestry. The birds were unmistakably Leghorns, the variations in shape 
often suggesting an admixture of Game blood and sometimes of blood of the 
Sussex type, while the colors suggested combinations of White, Brown, and Pile 
Leghorns, and Red Sussex. It is hardly credible that undesirable Cochin char- 
acteristics could be so completely eliminated in so short a time. 


generally had reddish 
hackles, backs, and 
saddles. Though re- 
ports of exhibitions 
every year described 
males quite perfect in 
color, it was about 
1900 before males of 
a uniform shade ' of 
buff were produced. 
The rose-combed va- 
riety was developed in 
America, apparently 
by crossing with the 
Rose-Combed White 

White Leghorns 
(single-comb and rose- 
comb). The single- 
combed variety was 

developed in this country contemporaneously with the brown and 

black varieties, attracting less attention than the brown at first, but 

later becoming more popular . 

with specialists in egg produc- 
tion. The color of the plumage 

is white throughout, naturally 

a creamy white, the dazzling 

white seen in the exhibition 

room being secured (except in 

rare cases) only by washing or 

bleaching the feathers. In its 

relation to other varieties the 

White Leghorn represented the 

last stage in the reduction of 

the color of the black-red fowl 

of the initial type, the 

FIG. 346. Single-Comb White Leghorn cock 
(Photograph by E. J. Hall) 


eral intermediate stages being 
brown, red, buff, white. 

FIG. 347. Single-Comb White Leghorn 

hen. (Photograph from owner, Harmon 

Bradshaw, Lebanon, Indiana) 

3 6 


FIG. 348. Single-Comb Black Leg- 
horn pullet, Turtle Point faring 
Saratoga, New York. (Photograph 
from owner) 

Black Leghorns (single-comb) 
have been bred in this country 
continuously since the early im- 
portations, but never extensively. 
In the dark sub variety of the 
Brown Leghorn and the Black 
Leghorn we have the stages of 
the intensification of color from 
the original type. 

Mottled Leghorns (single-comb), 
the Anconas, are given in the 
American Standard exactly the 
same description for shape as Leg- 
horns. They have distinctive color 
characteristics only. The plumage 
is black with each feather tipped 
with white, giving an even mottling 
of white on a black ground. According to most authentic accounts 
the variety came to England from Italy, and thence to America. 

NOTE. The five foregoing are the Italian varieties, in which there is general 
interest in America and which are commonly seen in our shows. Other varieties 
of this class are seen only occasionally and in small numbers. Some observations 
on the relative values of these varieties, 
and on certain differences between them, 
are therefore better presented here than 
at the end of the list. In everything but 
color the Leghorns as they came from 
Italy were the same. In the American 
Standard the descriptions for shape are 
the same for all. Theoretically, the vari- 
eties are identical except in color, but the 
differentiation of a breed into varieties 
inevitably tends to further differentiation 
as the result of individual differences. In 
addition, introductions of foreign blood 
usually bring in different elements, and 
though the purpose of these is to 
strengthen a variety or breed character- 
istic, and foreign characters are syste- FIG. 349. Ancona hen. (Photograph 
matically bred out by fanciers, the use of fronT United States Department of 
the fancier's culls, and indifferent selection Agriculture) 


by less careful breeders, tends to give the variety as a whole more of the for- 
eign qualities than was intended, and to create between varieties differences 
not in accord with the standards. Of the single-combed varieties, Brown Leg- 
horns have had at various times infusions of blood of the Black-Red Pit Game ; 
White Leghorns, infusions of the blood of the White Minorca ; Buff Leghorns, 
as related, are a recent mixture ; the Ancona has had infusions of Minorca 
blood. That the rose-combed varieties are originally indebted to the Ham- 
burgs for their combs there is little doubt. As a result of these different in- 
fusions of blood, rose-combed varieties generally show a little more of the 
plumpness of the Hamburg and something of its delicacy. Single-Comb 
Brown Leghorns are more rugged than others, except, perhaps, the blacks. 
White Leghorns are generally a little larger than the other varieties. 1 White 
Leghorns and Anconas lay larger eggs than the others. Buff Leghorns were 
at first very rugged and laid a slightly tinted egg. After their first boom the 
breeding of this variety was left largely in the hands of a few fanciers. Though 
these made rapid improvement in color, something was lost in other directions. 

Pile Leghorns (single-comb) have a white-red color pattern, the 
black in the initial type being replaced by white and the red much 
reduced in strength. The true place of such a combination in a 
color series is not readily determined. Whether such a combina- 
tion could be produced directly by elimination of color is not 
known. The variety was made by combination, by mating a 
black-red with a white bird. It is bred only as a novelty. 

Duckwing Leghorns (single-comb) are of recent English ori- 
gin, and are said to have been produced like Pile Leghorns, by 
crossing Brown and White Leghorns. This is the tolerably well- 
authenticated statement regarding the stock of the most promi- 
nent early fanciers of the variety. According to other versions Pile 
Game and Silver Gray Dorkings were crossed to produce the 
Silver Duckwing Leghorn. The Silver Duckwing Leghorn has a 
black-white color combination, the red of the black-red pattern in 
the male being absent, leaving white. In the female the light- 
brown ground becomes white, the dark-brown parts black, while 
the salmon on the breast remains. In the Golden Duckwings the 
male is of a black-bay, or buff, color pattern, the (Standard) 
female so like the female of the silver subvariety that, as a matter 
of fact, in English Duckwing Leghorns the silver females are 
shown with both golden and silver males, and the golden females 
not shown. While the Standard calls for white ground in silver 

1 This is true of general flocks ; it is not so noticeable in the showroom. 

3 62 


FIG. 350. Silver Duckwing Leghorn cock 

(Photograph from owner, Thomas Peer, 

Fairneld, New Jersey) 

females, the variety is 
not well developed, and 
females are said to be 
often not distinguishable 
from Brown Leghorns. 

Dominique Leghorns or 
Cuckoo Leghorns (single- 
comb) have the barred 
pattern and gray colors 
of the Barred Plymouth 
Rock. This color pattern 
is quite common in Italy. 
The specimens which are 
occasionally exhibited in 
this country are probably 
made by crosses of White 
and Black Leghorns, or 
of White Leghorns with 
black or barred fowls. 
The Spanish section of the Mediterranean class. The Spanish 
group includes five so-called breeds, Castilian, Black Spanish, 
Minorca, Andalusian, and Barbe- 
zieux. Of these the first- and last- 
named are bred only in Spain ; the 
others in their modern form are 
largely the result of English breed- 
ing, though it appears that in one 
case the development of particular 
characters was begun on the conti- 
nent side of the English Channel. 
As already noted, the conspicuous 
differences between the Spanish 
and Italian races are color of skin 
and legs, and the general Span- 
ish preference for black plumage. 
W r hile designated as different 
breeds, these Spanish fowls are FIG. 35 z Silver Duckwing Leg- 

. . r horn pullet. (Photograph from 

properly varieties of one breed. owner, Thomas Peer) 


Originally all were single-combed (as they are still in Spain), the 
rose-combed subvarieties having been made recently in America. 

Castilian fowls are in appearance unimproved Minorcas. They 
are supposed to be the original breed from which the others are 
derived. According to tradition they were brought' to Spain by the 
Moors at the time of the Moorish invasion. If that could be estab- 
lished, it would indicate a third line of movement of fowls from the 
starting point across northern Africa. Such traditions, however, 
are most unreliable, and in a 
broad survey of the movement 
and development of these races 
it appears far more probable 
that the Spanish races were 
developed from the Italian. 
The difference in color of skin 
and legs is no obstacle to this 
theory, for yellow-skinned races 
produce many individuals with 
white skin, and popular pref- 
erence for black fowls would 
lead to the establishment of 
white or gray skin and dark 
legs as race characteristics. 
The Castilian fowl is in size 
between the Leghorn and the 
Minorca, with color of skin 
and shanks like the Minorca, 
while the comb is more of the Leghorn style, and the ear lobes are 
white tipped with red. Black is the preferred color, but there are 
also whites and mixtures (especially the darker shades) of black 
and white. Castilian fowls, particularly the black, were introduced 
into England and Holland several centuries ago, and from them 
came the two varieties next described. 

Minorcas (two color varieties, black and white, single-combed 
and rose-combed subvarieties of both) were long called Red-faced 
Spanish. English breeders made the Minorca, as afterwards they 
made their Leghorns, more on meat-type lines, made it larger 
and heavier ; and the fanciers breeding for exhibition carried the 

FIG. 352. Silver Duckwing Leghorn 

cockerel. (Photograph from owner, 

Thomas Peer) 

3 6 4 


development of the 
comb to such an extent 
that it became a mon- 
strosity and an imped- 
iment. The American 
Standard calls for a 
bird of finer type, yet 
distinctly larger than 
the Leghorn and with a 
relatively larger comb. 
To maintain the size, 
the following standards 
of weight were estab- 
lished : single-comb 
black : cock, 9 pounds ; 
cockerel, 7! pounds; 
hen, 7 1 pounds; pullet, 
6J pounds ; rose-comb 
black and single-comb 
white : cock, 8 pounds ; 
cockerel, 61- pounds ; 
hen, 61- pounds; pullet, 5^ 
pounds. Black cock birds 
over i o pounds and hens over 
8 pounds in weight are fre- 
quently produced. In general 
outlines the M inorca, as distin- 
guished from the Leghorn, is 
an enlargement of the type, 
showing more straight lines 
and angles, because of its 
greater size. It is generally 
conceded that Minorca eggs 
average larger than those of 
any other race of fowls. Mi- 
FiG-354. Single-Comb Black Minorca pullet 1 -, nrolific as 

Leghorns. The ordinary Black Minorca stock is distinguishable 

1 Photographs from owner, Dr. Howard Mellor, Spring House, Pennsylvania. 

FIG. 353. Single-Comb Black Minorca cockerel 1 


FIG. 355. Rose-Comb White Minorca cockerel 
(Photograph by Eugene Hall) 

from the Black Leg- 
horn only by the color 
of the skin, and 
(usually, not always) 
by its slightly greater 
size. Much of this 
stock is mixed Leg- 
horn-Minorca. In- 
stances have been 
known of breeders 
advertising Black 
Leghorns and Black 
Minorcas and ship- 
ping both from the 
same lot. Compar- 
isons of Leghorns 

and Minorcas based on presumptive constitutional breed differ- 
ences are fallacious. Practically there is no difference between 

them. The Black Minorca 

has been commonly pre- 
ferred to the Black Leghorn 

wherever a black fowl of 

the laying type was wanted. 

On the other hand, where a 

white fowl of this type was 

wanted, the Leghorn has 

been given preference, and, 

as in the case of the black 

varieties, the White Minorca 

has been used to give size 

to the Leghorn. 

The typical American 

Standard Minorca is usually 

FIG. 356. Single-Comb White Minorca hen 

(Photograph from owner, H. J. Teetz, 

Gloversville, New York) 

more docile than the Leg- 
horn, less able, because of 
its excessively large comb, 
to stand low temperatures, and ordinarily less rugged, though that 
is largely a matter of the handling of the stock. The rose-combed 


subvarieties in both Whites and Blacks are usually of slighter build 
than the single-combed birds. Black and White Hamburgs are 
supposed 1 to have been used to get the rose combs. 

Black Spanish (single-comb), often called White- Faced Black 
Spanish, have the same weight standards as White Minorcas, and 
differ from Black Minorcas principally in the head furnishings. 
The comb and wattles are smaller, more of the Leghorn style. 
The white face which is the peculiar characteristic of the breed 
was produced by enormously developing the face and ear lobes, 
a less marvelous accomplishment than at first thought appears, for 

FIG. 357. White-Faced Black Spanish. (Photograph from owner, 
J. H. Warrington, Cornwall, Ontario) 

all fowls with large combs and white ears tend naturally to develop 
white faces and large ear lobes and wattles. This Spanish variety 
has been bred in Holland and England for several centuries. The 
white face is said to have been developed first in Holland, but 
English fanciers are credited with the extreme development of it. 
The Black Spanish was introduced into America and became well 
known before the Leghorns and Minorcas. For a long time it 
was quite popular, but it always had the reputation of being deli- 
cate. The enormous white face was easily injured and was subject 

1 The originator of the Rose-Comb Black Minorca declared that he had de- 
veloped the rose comb by selection, beginning with single-combed birds with 
side sprigs. Experienced breeders are decidedly skeptical about this. One re- 
marked to me, " He was foolish if he did, for it would be quicker, easier, and 
better to cross with Black Hamburg." 


to skin diseases, and after the Leghorns and Minorcas became 

known, the Spanish gradually disappeared. 

White-Faced White Spanish 
came occasionally as sports from 
the black variety. 

Andalusians (single-comb and 
rose-comb) were first known as 
the Blue Minorca. The color of 
the female is a slaty blue laced 
with darker blue. The color of 
the male is the same as that of the 
female on breast and body, with 
wing flights blue, and the hackle, 
back, saddle, and tail blue-black. 
This color is produced some- 
times (not regularly) by crossing 
black and white birds, and in re- 
production continuously produces 
FIG. 35 8. Blue Andalusian cock some black and some white, as 

well as blue, specimens. In size 

and shape the Andalusian is between the Leghorn and the Minorca. 

As usually bred it is more of the 

Leghorn than of the Minorca type. 

American Standard weights are 

cock, 6 pounds ; cockerel, 5 pounds ; 

hen, 5 pounds ; pullet, 4 pounds. 

The Andalusian has long been 

known in England, but is a com- 
paratively recent arrival in America. 

Here it is a favorite with a few, 

but is not generally popular, be- 
cause of the uncertainty of color 

in breeding. 

Other races of the Mediterranean 

type. Throughout Europe there FIG. 359. Blue Andalusian pullet 

are many races like the Mediter- 
ranean (especially the Leghorn) type in form and size but unlike 
it in the color of the skin ; and though in many cases their 


resemblance to the Leghorn type is striking, on the whole they 
seem more closely allied to the Hamburgs and Polish. The breeds 
which may be considered quite distinctively Italian in origin are 
the Magyar of Hungary and the Lakenv elder of Germany." The 
Magyar is said to more closely resemble the native Italian fowls 
than do the Leghorns of England. The color varieties of the 
Magyar are black, red, yellow, white, and speckled. The variety 
called red is the Brown Leghorn with red ear lobes. The Laken- 
velder is a fowl of the Leghorn type, with an ermine color pattern 
in which the black is more prevalent than in the varieties of the 
Asiatic and American classes having that pattern. It is a new 
arrival in America and seems to be growing in popularity. 

Mid-European laying types. The modern types of the central 
European races of fowls, as known in America, have been received 
principally from England, after having been modified to conform 
to English ideals. To appreciate fully the relations of the Medi- 
terranean and mid-European types it is necessary to study the 
latter as they were before being taken in hand by British fanciers. 
These races may be divided into two general classes, the familiar 
representatives of the classes being the Hamburgs and the Polish. 

The Hamburg as developed by fanciers is a rose-combed breed, 
the shape of the comb being considered a breed character. As 
first brought to England they had both rose and single combs, 
as the native stocks on the continent of Europe from which the 
modern exhibition Hamburgs were originally derived still have. 
In these stocks, indeed, the single comb is the more common 
and is regarded as most typical. The color of skin and legs is thus 
the only general character distinguishing this mid- European type 
from the Leghorn, and as in this character it is like the Spanish 
races of the Mediterranean class, it is apparent that the idea of 
fundamental breed differences between these races has no real 
foundation. . 

The Polish races present, with body type similar to that of the 
other races that we have been considering, a very different develop- 
ment of head appurtenances. The comb is split, V-shaped, and 
very small, and the wattles and ear lobes are of corresponding size. 
These head embellishments, so conspicuous in the other represent- 
atives of the laying type, almost disappear in the Polish. They 


FIG. 360. Lakenvelder hen l 

FIG. 361. Lakenvelder cock 

are often almost invisible in the mass of feathers by which they 
have been largely displaced. On superficial consideration and slight 
acquaintance with poultry types it seems that in this Polish race, 

FIG. 362. Lakenvelder cockerel 1 

FIG. 363. Lakenvelder pullet 1 

if anywhere, we have a distinctive breed (shape) character, plainly 
differentiating it from breeds with large combs and wattles and 
no special development of feathers on the head ; but, as in the 

1 Photograph from owner, Ralph C. Greene, Sayville, Long Island. 



case of the Hamburg, to find the true relation to fowls of similar 
body type we must go to kindred and earlier forms. As has been 
shown, the Hamburg races are allied to the Leghorns on the one 
side, and on the other side are undoubtedly akin to the crested 
Polish type. Among the progenitors of the modern Hamburgs 
crests and feathered legs were not unknown ; the Polish of three 
hundred years ago (as shown by paintings of the time) had crests, 
beards, and sometimes quite heavily feathered legs. Indications 
(not sure but none the less significant) point to a movement 
of ancestors of this type from central Asia by a northerly route 
through Siberia, Russia, and Poland to Germany, France, England, 
and America. This will be brought out in the special descriptions. 
Considering large combs (large flesh or skin developments) and 
large crests (large feather developments) as racial characters, it 
should be noted that they are not essentially distinct characters, 
but different developments of the same part, and that while great 
development in one direction is not compatible with great develop- 
ment in the other, more moderately developed combs, crests, and 
beards may be equally prominent features of the same head. 

While there are some slight indications that the rose comb may 
have come directly from the single comb before or shortly after 
the importation of fowls into southeastern Europe, and that the rose 
type was preserved by preference in a considerable part of the poultry 
in a strip between that occupied by the single-combed type on the 
south and that traversed and in part occupied by the crested type 
on the north, on a general view of the types and from what can be 
learned of their development it seems at least as probable that 
rose combs came occasionally from the mingling of the single- 
combed and crested types, not necessarily from a direct cross, 
but from some combination. For centuries the races have been in 
contact in central and western Europe. The crested type reached 
northern Italy and was established in one locality there, but on 
the whole found little favor along the Mediterranean ; but from 
Germany west the country was a veritable melting pot of the 
southern and northern races. 

Campines. A small, active race of fowls, which has been for 
centuries the common stock of the Campine country in Belgium, 
has been given the name of that district. It is thought by some 


FIG. 364. Silver Campine cockerel, owned by 
M. R. Jacobus, Ridgefield, New Jersey 

that the stock may have 
come from Turkey, birds of 
exactly the same descrip- 
tion having been observed 
there by Aldrovandus. Bel- 
gian tradition dates the 
race in Belgium as far 
back as the early part of 
the thirteenth century, 
four hundred years before 
Aldrovandus. If this tra- 
dition is true, it would 
appear that the race has 
been bred, in close con- 
formity to the present type, 
for at least seven hundred 
years. Campines are about 
the size of ordinary Leghorns, and are typically single-combed, 
though it is said that rose combs sometimes occur. Their resemblance 
to Penciled Hamburgs is so great 
that a fancier, seeing the birds and 
not. knowing what they were called, 
would unhesitatingly describe them 
as Single-Combed Penciled Ham- 
burgs. There are two color varie- 
ties, Silver and Golden. In the 
former both the male and the fe- 
male are finely barred (or penciled) 
with black and white, with white 
hackle. The tail of the male is 
black with small coverts more or 
less barred or penciled . The Golden 
variety has the same pattern as the 
Silver, with the white replaced by 
bay. About 1890 they were intro- 
duced into England, and shortly after into America, where interest 
in them proved very short-lived. Though developed more on Leg- 
horn lines and with fixed color pattern, the Campine as first 

FIG. 365. Silver Campine pullet, 
owned by M. R. Jacobus. (Photo- 
graph by F. L. Sewell) 


introduced was in other respects very like the little half-wild mon- 
grels which constituted the mass of American' native stock prior 
to the introduction and development of improved stocks. Within 
a few years there has been a marked revival of interest in the Sil- 
ver Campine in America, due to the introduction of stock much 
larger than that of the early importations. This stock is really an 
English type of the Campine, bearing the same relation to the 
Belgian type as the English-type Leghorns and Minorcas do to 
the lighter-weight American types of those breeds. The color, too, 
has been slightly changed. The males of the first stock brought 
to this country had saddle feathers of the same colors as their 

Friesland fowls. In Holland there has existed for centuries a 
race called Friesland, which is evidently closely allied to the Cam- 
pine. The leading color varieties are the same, but in addition the 
Friesland has yellow-penciled (yellow and white), white, black, and 
cuckoo varieties. Rose-combed fowls of this race were developed 
as a separate breed with the name " Hollanders," and are believed 
to have been used for foundation stock in making the penciled 
varieties of the modern Hamburg. 

Hamburgs, as known in England and America, are usually small, 
rose-combed fowls of the laying type, with gray skin and clean, 
slate-colored legs. The rose comb on the small laying type is the 
basis of formation of the group. Although in the American Stand- 
ard the shape is described in the same terms for the six varieties, 
Golden-Spangled, Silver-Spangled, Golden-Penciled, Silver-Pen- 
ciled, Black, and White, some of these varieties differ typically 
in shape, as would be expected in birds of the same general type 
but different ancestry. The name " Hamburg " was given in Eng- 
land about the middle of the last century to all the then-known 
rose-combed varieties of fowls of this body type. This name is said 
to have been selected because Hamburg was the chief port from 
which fowls of this type were imported. This report of its chris- 
tening does not accord with commonly accepted English accounts 
(to be noted shortly) of the origin of the breed, particularly of the 
Spangled and Black varieties. 

Penciled Hamburgs (Golden and Silver) were apparently de- 
rived from the same stock as the Campine and Friesland fowls. 

FIG. 366. Silver- Spangled Hamburg cock 1 


As " Dutch Everyday 
Layers " they were 
known in England a 
hundred years ago. 
Even as late as the 
middle of the last cen- 
tury they appeared in 
the London market 
direct from Holland. 
They have the same 
colors as the continen- 
tal races mentioned, 
except that the golden 
variety has a black tail. 
Spangled Hambu rgs 
(Golden and Silver). 

According to some English authorities Hamburgs were a British 
race of fowls bred in the north of England for centuries. Con- 
sidering the constant communication between the island and the 
continent, it may well be that, 
though bred in England for 
several hundred years, they 
were of foreign origin, and the 
stock perhaps kept up by fre- 
quent importations. Certainly 
a comparison of the color pat- 
terns of fowls as developed in 
different parts of Europe indi- 
cates that these varieties must 
have originated where all the 
other novel styles of markings 
did. English breeders and fan- 
ciers may be credited with hav- FlG . 3 6 7 . Silver-Spangled Hamburg hen 
ing improved and perfected 

these markings and also those of the penciled varieties, but it 
seems altogether improbable that they originated them. In size 

1 Photographs of Silver- Spangled Hamburgs from owner, Dr. J. S. Wolfe, 
Bloomfield, New Jersey. 



FIG. 368. Silver-Spangled Hamburg cockerel 

the Spangled Hamburgs in America are usually larger than the 

others ; they are also plumper-bodied, suggesting kinship to the 

Polish. The plumage 
of the golden variety is 
a dark bay ground with 
a black spangle at the 
tip of each feather, ex- 
cept that the hackle and 
saddle of the male have 
a black stripe and the 
tail is black. The silver 
variety has black span- 
gles on a white ground 

Black Hamburgs. 
The Black Hamburg 
was probably made in 
England by crossing 

the Black Game on the Golden-Spangled Hamburg. 

White Hamburgs. The White Hamburg is said to have been 

produced in America by systematic breeding of the lightest-colored 

Silver-Penciled Hamburgs. 

NOTE. Before the Leghorns 
became known in America, Ham- 
burgs were quite popular, sharing 
with other known races of the lay- 
ing type the favor of those who 
preferred fowls of that type. In 
disposition they are more nervous 
than the Leghorn and less easily 
restrained. In general they have 
been considered as good layers as 
Leghorns though producing smaller 
eggs. The numbers kept now are 
not sufficient to afford any reliable 
indications of differences in laying FIG. 369. Silver-Spangled Hamburg pullet 
properties in the varieties of Ham- 
burgs, if there are such differences. The spangled varieties, particularly the silver, 
are very plump and meaty when matured. With a great deal of merit, they are 
still inferior to the Mediterranean races of their type, and have generally been 
displaced by them except as they are bred by fanciers for their color and style. 


Primitive crested types. An Asiatic laying-type fowl known 
as the Siberian Feather-Footed is found in Russia. Almost nothing 
is known of its history, except that at present it is a native Siberian 
race. If, as some suppose, it is a very old race, it becomes doubly 
interesting as the possible progenitor, or closely related to the pro- 
genitor, of the Polish and Hamburgs. It is larger than the ordinary 
Leghorn (the males weighing about 6 pounds and the females from 
4 to 4^ pounds) and has the full form, large wings, and (in the 
male) flowing tail of the Polish ; it has feathered legs and a small 
rose comb, behind which is a small crest ; it is bearded and in 
color is generally white or cuckoo. 

Pavloff is the name of a Russian race, akin to the foregoing and 
possibly derived from it, which greatly resembles the Polish. This 
race is found throughout Russia and in Poland. It has the forked 
comb and crest of the Polish, and the principal varieties,, the' 
Golden and the Silver, have the colors and color pattern of the 
Spangled Hamburgs. While the two color types mentioned are 
best established, and are regarded as "pure," there are blacks 
and blues, regarded as varieties, and a great variety of unestab- 
lished color patterns. The race has not been studied as it should 
be before any positive conclusions as to its relations to other races 
are drawn, but in it and the foregoing are found (as nowhere else) 
suggestions of most of the characteristics of native European 
races of poultry not plainly derivable from Mediterranean and 
Game stocks. 

For a long time after their introduction into England, Polish 
were called Polands or Polanders. The White-Crested Black Polish 
seem to have come first from Holland ; and, considering what is 
known of the distribution of the type, it may reasonably be supposed 
that their present name was the one which they bore on the Con- 
tinent, and which indicated the country of their supposed origin. 1 
Interest in this variety no doubt led to the introduction of others, 
the general type (as has been shown) having been common on the 

1 Various explanations of the name are given on the theory that the race did 
not come from Poland. One is that the name was given because of a fancied re- 
semblance between the crest and the cap of the Polish soldier ; another, that 
" Polish " is a corruption of " polled," and that the intention was to describe them as 
polled fowls, an absurd explanation, since the type is quite the reverse of polled, 
but it has been seriously given times without number. 



continent for centuries. Polish are as large as medium-large Leg- 
horns, but are of plumper form and shorter in the leg. In dis- 
position they are quiet and gentle. The crest, when extremely 
large, obstructs the sight and is in other ways a burden and a 
nuisance, making it necessary to give the birds special care in 
wet weather. When moderately developed, it is not detrimental 
and, to eyes to which the symmetry of the bird as a whole seems 
more important than the extreme development of this feature, 

may seem quite as handsome 
as the larger crest. Like the 
Hamburgs, Polish were in favor 
as layers until supplanted by 
the Leghorns. The American 
Standard recognizes five color 
varieties, in three of which 
there are subvarieties distin- 
guished as bearded or non- 

White-Crested Black (non- 
bearded), fully described as to 
color by the name. 

Golden (bearded and non- 
bearded), plumage golden bay, 
each feather laced with black. 
Silver (bearded and non- 
bearded), plumage white, each 
feather laced with black. 

Buff Laced (nonbearded), plumage buff laced with white. 
White (bearded and nonbearded). 

Polverara is the name of a crested race (allied to Polish) found 
in the province of Padua, Italy, which is probably an offshoot of 
the main stock. This race seems to have been somewhat widely 
known long before the Leghorns attracted notice. The name 
"Padua" was often applied to Polish fowls and is the general 
name still given them in western continental Europe. 

European meat types. The European market types of fowls 
might, perhaps, with equal accuracy be called general-purpose types, 
but so much more attention has been given to perfecting table 

FIG. 370. White-Crested Black Polish 
(Photograph from owner, Lionel Lin- 
coln, Jr., Fall River, Massachusetts) 


quality in them than in the familiar races of the general-purpose 
type that " meat type " seems the more appropriate designation, 
especially for those varieties made from European stocks without 
recourse to the Asiatic blood used in making American general- 
purpose breeds. These European meat types have usually been 
made by developing the size and meat qualities of the laying types, 
- in some cases by selection and feeding, oftener by crossing, but 
nearly always with the shape of the laying type preserved. This 
is not apparent 
when the largest, 
best-meated, and 
fattest of the meat 
type are compared 
with the ordinary 
specimens of the 
laying type, but 
comparison of large 
birds of the laying 
type with medium- 
sized or small ones 
of the meat type in 
the same condition 
of flesh will show 
that their normal 
lines are much the 
same, even though 
their dimensions 

differ. "Meat type," however, means more than form carrying 
abundance of meat. Quality of meat and tendency to fatten readily 
are fully as important as shape. 

English meat types. There are three English meat types. The 
principal one (and the one most distinctively English) is that of 
which the Dorking is the favorite, though perhaps not the earlier 
type. This type is plainly related to the Mediterranean laying type. 
The others are the Indian Game (already described as a modifica- 
tion of the Game type still retaining pronounced Game character) 
and the Redcap (a meat type of the Hamburgs). The English 
have made one or more meat breeds of each of the conspicuous 

FIG. 371. Bearded Silver-Spangled Polish. (Photograph 
from owner, Lionel Lincoln, Jr.) 


early modifications of the initial type of the domestic fowl, and, as 
we saw in the case of the Leghorn and Minorca, and shall find in 
the modern general-purpose type, the English tendency is to de- 
velop the meat qualities rather than the laying qualities in fowls. 

Sussex fowls (called also Surrey fowls), not so well known as 
the Dorking, are probably the progenitors of that breed. The an- 
tiquity sometimes attributed to the Dorking rests only upon a tra- 
dition of little value, and upon the recent finding, in Italy, of fowls 
with the characteristic fifth toe. The most authentic records (going 
back only a little over a hundred years) indicate that the Sussex 
was the earlier type. The Sussex, or Surrey, was developed as a con- 
spicuous type, if not the predominant type, in the counties of Sussex 
and Surrey, which from very early times supplied a great deal of 
choice table poultry to the city of London. The type of the breed 
throughout is exactly what would be expected of Italian fowls bred 
for centuries for the table. It is larger and better-meated than the 
English style of Leghorn, is rather short of feather (suggesting 
occasional Game crosses), has a medium-sized single comb, and 
is four-toed. The predominating colors are red brown, and yellow 
or buff. A speckled variety (mottled red, black, and white) and a 
" Light " Sussex (with the color pattern of the Light Brahma) are 
also recognized. These are the modern varieties. The Sussex of 
the middle of the last century are described by writers of that 
time as of " all colors " and mostly four-toed. 

Dorking fowls seem to have developed as a strain or race of 
the Sussex in the vicinity of the town of Dorking. Compared 
with the Sussex they present a more highly developed table type, 
having the fifth toe as a regular feature, and having different color 
patterns in the modern breed. In the middle of the last century 
they were of quite as many colors as the Sussex. There are three 
modern varieties of the Dorking, the Silver Gray (with the 
black-white color pattern), the Colored, or " Dark " (a crude and 
somewhat irregular variation of the black-red combination), and 
the White. The last-named has a rose comb, is smaller than the 
others, and lacks much of the characteristic Dorking size, shape, 
and carriage. Typical specimens are not often seen in America 
outside of drawings. Red and Cuckoo, or Barred, Dorkings are 
also occasionally found in England. 

FIG. 372. Silver-Gray Dorking cock. (Photo- 
.graph by Graham) 


The typical Dorking 
presents highly developed 
flesh qualities and relatively 
fine bone. The body is long, 
deep, wide, well rounded, 
with prominent breast and 
short neck and legs, mak- 
ing a massive, rather low- 
set bird. Following are 
the American Standard 
weights. Colored : cock, 
9 pounds ; cockerel, 8 
pounds ; hen, 7 pounds ; 
pullet, 6 pounds. Silver- 
Gray : cock, 8 pounds ; 
cockerel, 7 pounds ; hen, 
6| pounds; pullet, 5^- 
pounds. White: cock, "]\ 
pounds; cockerel, 6| pounds; hen, 6 pounds; pullet, 5 pounds. 
In the two first-named varieties the standard weights are often 
exceeded. Dorkings are 
generally reputed a rather 
tender race and indifferent 
or poor layers. Their good 
qualities are not duly ap- 
preciated because of sev- 
eral features which under 
some conditions are objec- 
tionable. The large comb 
makes the male especially 
unable to stand severe 
cold weather ; the fifth 
toe somewhat impedes the 
movement^ of the feet; in FIG. 373. Silver-Gray Dorking hen. (Photo- 
America the white skin is graph by Graham) 
a disadvantage. 

Redcaps. The Redcap is a meat type of the Hamburg developed 
as a once-prevalent type of poultry in Yorkshire and Derbyshire. 

3 8o 


It is thought to have been produced by crossing the Golden-Spangled 
Hamburg and the Black- Red Game. In color it follows the Golden- 
Spangled Hamburg quite closely. The shape is what would be ex- 
pected in a larger, coarser type of Hamburg, with greater breast 
development, due to Game blood. American Standard weights are 
cock, *j\ pounds ; cockerel, 6 pounds ; hen, 6 pounds ; pullet, 5 
pounds. The comb is rose, very large, and gives the name to the 
breed. The skin is white, the legs slate. The Redcap has long 

been considered one of the 
best-laying breeds, equal to the 
lighter-bodied types in egg 
production, and in meat qual- 
ities superior to them, though 
not equal to races developed 
more with a view to table qual- 
ities. It is rarely seen in this 

French and Belgian meat 
types. The market-type fowls 
of France lack something of 
the size and substance of such 
English types as the Dorking 

FIG. 374- Colored (or Dark) Dorking hen and India11 Game ' With SOme 
(Photograph by Graham) modifications of the form of 

the European laying types, 

and with occasional traces of the Game type, the class of French 
table fowls represents fineness of fiber in flesh and special capacity 
for forcing for market, rather than development of size and quantity 
of meat. Most of these races have been developed in the districts 
from which they take their names. 

Bresse. In the south of France there has been developed a race 
called the Bresse, closely resembling the Leghorn but with a re- 
markable tendency to fatten. It is bred in four color varieties, 
White, Black, Gray, and Blue. 

La Flhhe. In this race we have the extreme development of meat 
properties on a foundation of European laying-type stock as pro- 
duced in France. With weight approximating that of the Dorking, 
it is a higher-stationed, more stylish-looking fowl. It is thought 


to have been produced by a blending of Spanish and Polish blood. 
The color is black, and the high station suggests the Spanish. The 
peculiar comb, with two prongs, or horns, suggests a Polish strain. 
There is a similar race, Du Mans, with rose comb. The two are 
probably akin, but their relations are not known. The rose comb 
of the latter indicates a Hamburg cross. As has been shown, the 
Minorca (Spanish) in England and America has been brought to 
a large size without special development of table qualities. It may 
readily be supposed that Spanish stock in France, mingled with 
Polish and Hamburg, gave in one place the forked-combed La 
Fleche and in another the rose-combed Du Mans, and that in 
breeding for market the large size and readiness to put on flesh 
and fat were developed without recourse to other crosses. American 
Standard weights for La Fleche are cock, 8^ pounds ; cockerel, 
7j pounds ; hen, 7^ pounds; pullet, 61 pounds. It is said that in 
France the weights often exceed i o pounds for males and 8 pounds 
for females. La Fleche fowls are rarely seen in America. 

Houdan, Crtvecceur, and Mantes, are similar races, the first two 
developed, apparently, from a Polish foundation, the other from 
the Polish or Houdan by blending with a single-combed type. It 
has been suggested that the Bresse may have been used for this. 
The Houdan is in appearance a black-and-white mottled, bearded 
Polish, with a strain of Dorking blood, giving greater length and 
massiveness of body and the characteristic fifth toe. The Creve- 
cceur is a fowl of the same size and type but black in color and 
without the fifth toe. The Mantes has the mottled plumage of the 
Houdan, lacks the fifth toe, and has a single comb and no crest. 
All these so-called breed differences are superficial, just such 
differences as variations in ideas of breeders in different localities 
would be likely to make in a type developed for the same purpose 
on the same body lines. The Houdan is well known and well dis- 
tributed in America ; the Crevecceur, rare ; the Mantes, unknown. 
Following are the American Standard weights for these races. 
Houdans : cock, 7 pounds ; cockerel, 6 pounds ; hen, 6 pounds ; 
pullet, 5 pounds. Crevecceurs : cock, 8 pounds ; cockerel, 7 pounds ; 
hen, 7 pounds ; pullet, 6 pounds. These weights are often ex- 
ceeded. The Houdan in this country presents considerable differ- 
ences in size and shape. Some strains are small and light-bodied, 


others quite as large as Dor- 
kings, but most are of an in- 
termediate type. They are not 
usually bred with extreme de- 
velopment of crest and beard, 
yet most exhibition stocks have 
more of these than is desirable 
in fowls bred for use. In the 
Houdan district of France the 
crests are smaller and the birds 
better adapted to ordinary con- 
ditions. Houdans are as good 
layers as any breed and make 
excellent poultry. The color 
of the skin and legs is against 
them in this country. 

French Cuckoo. A variation 
of the Friesland-Campine- 
Hamburg type, developed in 
Brittany, with the rose comb 

prevailing in the north and the single comb in the south, is called 

French Cuckoo. The size and weight of the body are increased 

and the neck and legs shortened, 

yet without giving the bird a squat 


Courtes Pattes (Creepers). This 

is a single-comb black fowl remark- 
able for delicacy of flesh. In size 

they approach the Bantams, the 

males weighing from 3 to 4 pounds, 

and the females from 2j to 3^ 

pounds. It is thought that they 

may have been derived from the 


Braekel. According to the best 

Belgian authority this is simply the 

Campine growing to a larger size FlG . 376 . Houdan pullet. (Photo- 

in the vicinity of Nederbrakel, in graph from owner, C. E. Petersen) 

FIG. 375. American type Houdan cock- 
erel. (Photograph from owner, C. E.Peter- 
sen, Pembroke, Maine) 


FIG. 377. Houdanhen. (Photograph 
from owner, C. E. Petersen) 

Flanders, the conditions being 
more favorable there than on the 
sandy plains of the Campine coun- 
try. Putting together this view and 
the apparent kinship of the Fries- 
land and Campine, the Friesland 
appears as the intermediate (and 
probably earlier) type, of which the 
common Campine is a deteriorated 
and the Braekel an improved off- 
shoot. The Braekel males weigh 
from 5 to 7 pounds, females from 
4^ to 6 pounds. In shape the body 
approaches the Dorking (as does the 
body of a Leghorn of like weight). 
The Braekel greatly resembles the Leghorn in appearance and 
qualities. It is precocious, a good layer, and indeed so like a large 
Hamburg or Leghorn that the only warrant for placing it in the 
meat instead of the laying class is the fact that for a long time it 
has been bred with special 
reference to the production 
of the celebrated poulets 
de grains (corresponding 
to our broilers). The lead- 
ing varieties of the Braekel 
are the Golden and the Sil- 
ver, the colors and mark- 
ings of these being the 
same as for the correspond- 
ing varieties of Campines, 
except that the ground of 
the Silver Braekel is a 
creamy white. 

Brabant. TheBrabantis 
a large-bodied, fine-boned 
fowl of the Polish type, 
occupying about the same 

position among Belgian 

FIG. 378. Houdan cock. (Photograph from 
owner, C. E. Petersen) 


FIG. 379. Silver Braekel cockerel. (Photograph from 
owner, Thomas Keeler, Waverly, New York) 

races as the Houdan 
and similar breeds 
in France. 

The Asiatic meat 
type. It has been 
shown that in south- 
eastern Asia there 
was developed a 
large, coarse type 
of game fowl the 
Malay which more 
than a hundred years 
ago found its way to 
Britain and was used 
there later to make 
the Indian Game. It 
has also been stated 
that fowls -brought 

from Asia began to be exploited, about the middle of the last cen- 
tury, by men who claimed to have introduced them from the Orient, 
and the public became interested in 
them ; but at the same time it was 
found that there were many such 
fowls in America, particularly in 
New England. 

On the assumption that the Asi- 
atic races, the Cochin, Brahma, 
and Langshan, as now known 
and bred in America and England, 
are distinct breeds of different 
origin, coming from different parts 
of China and India, there has 
been, since the public first began 
to be interested in them, a long 
series of controversies as to origin, 
precise dates of importations, cor- 
rect types, etc. All this has tended to cloud the facts. 

FIG. 380. Silver Eraekel pullet 

(Photograph from owner, Thomas 

Keeler, Waverly, New York) 

seen how in the European races the differentiation of breeds and 


varieties has been largely the work of English and American 
fanciers, the student of the subject can at once see the reason- 
ableness of supposing that precisely the same thing is true of the 
Asiatic races. The present resemblances between these races 
indicate very close relationship. Resemblances between earlier 
types even types familiar to men still under middle age 
confirm this view. An examination of old descriptions and pic- 
tures brings the types still closer together. The testimony of 
early breeders as to the instability of color and comb shows plainly 
the condition of the stock for some time after the type began 
to be popular. And, finally, a description of the type as "one of 
the usual breeds or races raised in the United States " was pub- 
lished in "The American Poultry Book" in 1843, two years 
before the first importation of Shanghais from China to England, 
and three years before the first importation of " Brahmaputras " 
to the United States. The race, at that time called Malay, is thus 
described : " This is the largest of our breeds. Dampier says that 
he saw one of this breed so large, that, standing on the floor, it 
picked up crumbs from the table. They are mostly yellowish or 
reddish brown. The eggs are large and well-flavored. The flesh 
of the chicken is not very delicate, and is better adapted to broth 
than anything else ; in the adult it is coarse and stringy. They 
make large capons, but are considered to be very indifferent layers 
and not very steady sitters." 

This description fits the Yellow Shanghai, the progenitor of the 
modern Buff Cochin, very much better than it does the Malay Game. 
Though the Asiatics have the reputation of being most persistent 
sitters, the broody quality is by no means universal in the race, and 
there are other descriptions of the early types which agree with 
this. It is to be noted also that while buff or brown is given as 
the prevailing tone of color, the description implies a variety of 
colors, and this is in accord with the statements of other writers a 
few years later. It is not necessary here to go into an extended 
analysis of these statements. Together they establish a probability 
that the Asiatic type, called in America and Europe by a variety 
of names, was a common fowl over a wide area of Asia, and that 
the type, though found in parts of India, was probably first developed 
by the Chinese. What is known of the development of other types 


of poultry confirms this view. It may seem a comparatively easy 
matter to settle such a question beyond dispute by a study of the 
poultry of Asia, but the expense of such investigation is too great 
for private enterprise. 

Compared with the Malay Game type, with which it was some- 
times confounded, the early Asiatic was such a fowl as would 
develop from the same stock or (more easily) from an intermediate 
type, by general selection for size and constitution. While they had 
longer plumage than the European races, they had not the excessive 
development of feather which characterizes the modern Exhibition 
Cochin and Brahma. The legs and feet were only moderately or 
scantily feathered, sometimes quite bare. The combs were some- 
times single, sometimes triple (pea combs). There were no striking 
developments of comb or crest. The colors were much the same as 
in the Leghorns in Italy, 'of the same variety but with yellow or 
red-brown shades most popular. As in Italy, no effort was made 
to develop elaborate color patterns. While the colors were various, it 
appears that by local preference some color varieties had been out- 
lined and somewhat developed ; but much of the stock was, so far 
as color went, in a condition of mongrelism. To Americans and 
Europeans the feathers on the legs and feet were, after size, the most 
striking characteristic, and it has been generally assumed that the 
Chinese made special efforts to develop this character ; but as the 
quantity of foot feathering on the Asiatic type as developed in Asia 
was no greater than would naturally be correlated with a rather heavy 
plumage, this type may properly be considered a strictly utility 
type, especially adapted to cold regions and, because of its greater 
ruggedness and vitality, growing (under favorable conditions) larger 
than the European races approaching it in size. While great size 
was the most conspicuous race character, many specimens de- 
scribed by early American writers were medium or even small in 
size. In a general way they might be considered the opposites of 
the European laying race as most typically developed in the Leg- 
horn. They were developed in the opposite direction not only 
for shape but for color of eggs, laying dark-brown eggs, as did the 
Malay Game. In flesh qualities they were superior to the Leghorn 
only in quantity of meat; the quality of the flesh was similar, 
though the meat of the Asiatics was coarser in fiber. 


Divisions of the Asiatic meat type. The modern classification 
of Asiatic fowls makes three breeds, Brahma, Cochin, and Lang- 
shan, the order of mention being in accord with the relative 
popularity of the breeds when the type was most popular. With 
reference to the (supposed) original type of fowl the Cochin and 
Langshan are earlier forms, the comb and some other characters 
of the Brahma indicating 
Asiatic Game blood which 
undoubtedly mingled with 
the other race from time 
to time. 

Cochins. Early Ameri- 
can and English Cochins 
comprised four colors of 
the Asiatic type, and (in at 
least one of these colors) 
a variety of shades. The 
Buff Cochin, developed 
from the most common 
and popular color of the 
Shanghai or Malay, was, 
until near the close of 
the last century, bred and 
shown in all shades of buff, 
from a lemon-yellow to a 

FIG. 381. Buff Cochin cockerel. (Photograph 
by Eugene J. Hall, Oak Park, Illinois) 

brown called cinnamon- 
buff. In these Buff Cochins 
were found, as nowhere 

else among the fowls that came to the notice of early American 
fanciers, the gradations of color from the black-red of the initial 
type to white. The Pheasant or Partridge Cochin retained the 
black-red coloration, with the brown colors of the female arranged 
in lacings, a pattern which seems to have been developed in 
Asia, though not in the perfection in which it is now found in 
our exhibition stocks of varieties carrying the pattern. At the 
lower end of the scale of Asiatic colors was the White Cochin ; 
at the upper end, the Black Cochin, commonly called the Java. 
Of these varieties the Buff was, from the first, most popular, the 

3 88 


FIG. 382. Buff Cochin cock. (Photograph 

from owners,Tienken and Case, Rochester, 


Partridge next but far behind, 
the Black and the White com- 
paratively rare, though before 
the appearance of the Lang- 
shan the Black Cochin (some- 
times under that name and 
sometimes as the Java) seems 
to have been widely distributed. 
In shape the modern Cochin 
of the exhibition type differs 
greatly from the early Asiatic 
type. In this division of the 
Asiatics the development of 
feathers on the body and feet 
has been carried as far as pos- 
sible, making the birds (the 
hens especially) appear like big 
balls of feathers. To heighten 

this effect the neck and the legs have been somewhat shortened, 

though not as much as appears, 

for a part of the apparent short- 
ness of extremities is due to the 

length, abundance, and loose, fluffy 

character of the plumage. In the 

most heavily feathered specimens 

the shank is completely covered 

with feathers, on both inner and 

outer sides. Although the feathers 

on the body and feet are abundant, 

the tail and wing feathers are much 

shortened. The American Stand- 
ard weights for Cochins are cock, 

1 1 pounds ; cockerel, 9 pounds ; 

hen, 81- pounds ; pullet, 7 pounds. 

These weights are often exceeded. 1 The comb is single ; it is small 

in the females and, preferably, also in the males, though it is not 

*I have had Buff Cochin cocks weigh as high as 14 pounds, and credible 
reports give 16 and 17 pounds as extreme heavy weights. 

FIG. 383. Buff Cochin hen. (Photo- 
graph from owners, Tienken and Case) 


unusual to see males with quite large combs. The wattles corre- 
spond in size with the comb. The ear lobes are red. The color of 
the modern Buff Cochin, described as " golden buff," is between 
the light and the intermediate shades of earlier times. In the eastern 
United States the tendency of judges has been to favor a very 
light buff, while farther west and in Canada a richer shade has been 
preferred. In the male, the Partridge Cochin has the same colors 
and pattern as the Brown Leghorn, but in the female the ground 
is a uniform bay or mahogany red (varying in different specimens) 
penciled with dark brown or black, the object being to secure uni- 
formity of shade and clear, distinct penciling throughout. The main 
tail feathers are black, the wing primaries dark brown. The black 
and white varieties heed not be described for color. 

For utility purposes the exhibition type of Cochin is of little 
value. For many years after the stock in fanciers' hands had ceased 
to be suitable for practical poultry keepers, there were here and 
there throughout the country utility Cochins equal to (and pos- 
sibly better than) the best of the early importations. It is possible 
that a few such flocks still remain, but if so they are not known 
beyond their own neighborhoods. 

Black Langs hans. Black Asiatic fowls with single combs were 
introduced to poultrymen as Langshans in the early seventies. 
They came to England first, from the Langshan district in China. 
The importer and promoter claimed for them distinct breed char- 
acteristics plainly differentiating them from other Asiatic races. 
High station, great depth of body, erect carriage of head and tail, 
short plumage, scantily feathered feet, and white or gray skin, with 
the legs and toes slatish and the soles of the feet a pinkish white, 
gave enough breed characters, in the ordinary interpretation of 
that term, to mark the Langshan as a separate breed. As the Lang- 
shan began to attract notice, Black Cochins were adapted to Lang- 
shan standards, some by introducing the blood of the new race, 
others by selection toward the adopted Langshan type. In England, 
between the advocates of the tall, Langshan type and the " Cochiny " 
type, there has been continuous controversy down to the present 
time. As a result those who bred away from the Cochin type pro- 
duced an extremely tall, stilted type, without beauty and with little 
utility value. In America the race is bred more on the lines of 



FIG. 384. Black Langshan cock, owned by 

Urban Farms, Pine Ridge, Buffalo, New York 

(Photograph by Schilling) 

Birds from i to 2 pounds over 
these weights are not unusual. 
In general the Langshan of 
exhibition type in this country 
preserves more of the character 
of the Asiatic type at its best 
than either the Cochin or the 
Brahma. Had it not been for 
the erroneous conception of 
breed character that demanded 
the preservation of the color 
of skin and feet against which 
people in the United States are 
prejudiced, the Black Langshan 
might have become very popu- 
lar here. It is a hardy fowl and 
an excellent layer of the darkest 

the Langshans as they 
first came from the Lang- 
shan district. In that dis- 
trict the Black Langshan, 
though modified in many 
characters, is plainly a 
local black variety of the 
common Asiatic type. 

White Langshans are 
said to have come as sports 
from the black variety in 
England. A blue variety 
of Langshans was made 
in America by crossing 
Blacks and Whites, but it 
has attracted little atten- 
tion. American Standard 
weights for Langshans are 
cock, 10 pounds ; cock- 
erel, 8 pounds ; hen, 7 
pounds ; pullet, 6 pounds. 

FIG. 385. Black Langshan hen, owned by 
Urban Farms. (Photograph by Schilling) 


of brown eggs. The White 
Langshan, too, adapted to 
our requirements, . might 
easily have fitted into the 
place which the perversion 
of Brahma type was mak- 
ing vacant, and, for a period 
at least, might have been 
of considerable economic 

Brahmas. Among the 
early Asiatic fowls in Amer- 
ica were some gray birds. 
We have seen that in the. 
Cochins the modern fancier 
retained the black-red color 
pattern and developed three 
plain colors, buff, black, 
and white. During the 
period when names were 
used with little discrimination the gray color types went by various 
Asiatic names, such as Gray Chittagong, Brahmaputra, Cochin 
China, etc. As known in Amer- 
ica and England for over half a 
century the Brahma has had two 
color patterns described as "light" 
and "dark," these descriptions 
giving the names " Light Brahma" 
and " Dark Brahma," by which the 
varieties are designated. The his- 
tory of the Light Brahma in this 
country is given with great cir- 
cumstantiality as beginning with 
the finding, by a fancier, of speci- 
mens of the breed on a sailing 
vessel in New York harbor. This 

is entirely credible but does not ,-, 

< FIG. 387. White Langshan hen. (Pho- 

prove or even indicate that the tograph from owner, Paul p. Ives) 

FIG. 386. White Langshan cock. (Photo- 
graph from owner, Paul P. Ives, Guilford, 



FIG. 388. Dark Brahma cock. (Photograph 
from F.W.Rogers, Brockton, Massachusetts) 

specimens had fixed breed 
character. The most that 
may be inferred from the 
fact is that several speci- 
mens more or less closely 
approximating this attrac- 
tive color pattern were 
found in a lot of fowls on 
the vessel. Both printed 
and oral accounts of early 
breeders of Asiatics agree 
that the reproduction of 
color was uncertain and, 
further, that the type of 
comb was not fixed. Light 
and Dark Brahmas came 
from the same parents, 
and with them, sometimes, 
came fowls of other colors. 
Some of the fowls had 
single combs, but the pea 

comb seems to have been most prevalent, and, being a feature 

which might be used to make 

differentiation between Cochin 

and Brahma more pronounced, 

was adopted as the correct type 

of comb. 

Dark Brahmas. While the 
Light Brahma was from the first 
more popular than the Dark, and 
consequently came to be regarded 
as the principal variety, it is 
through the dark variety that it is 
most plainly connected with the 
Cochin forms of the type. But 
for its pea comb the Dark Brahma 

is a Silver-Penciled Cochin, a 

Partridge Cochin changed from 

FIG. 389. Dark Brahma hen. (Photo- 
graph from F. W. Rogers) 


the black-red to the black- 
white type of coloration, 
and still showing, in all 
but a few rare specimens, 
traces of brown or red 
throughout the plumage. 
The comb is an immaterial 
point, for not only were 
Brahmas at first produced 
with both pea combs and 
single combs, but also a 
pea-combed variety of the 
Partridge Cochin was rec- 
ognized in the American 
Standard as late as 1887. 
The Dark Brahma of to- 

FiG-390. Light Brahma cockerel. (Photograph day, without the extreme 
from owner, Frank C. Nutter, South Portland, heavy feathering of the 

Maine) . Cochin, is bred to the 

same standards for weight, and is* plainly an intermediate between 
the Cochins and the Light Brahma. 

Light Brahma. Without prejudice to other varieties of its 
general type the Light Brahma 
may be described as (from the 
American point of view) the 
highest development of that 
type. Exceeding its nearest of 
kin in size, it is the largest 
variety of the domestic fowl. 
Its color pattern is the sim- 
plest and at the same time 
the most striking color combi- 
nation found on fowls. While 
its size and general appearance 
(leaving the comb out of con- 
sideration) connect it with the 
Cochins, it is probable that FlG ^ Light Brahma pullet (photo . 

the comb came from an Aseel graph from owner, Frank C. Nutter) 



cross. The color pattern, though long peculiar to the Brahma 
among American Standard-bred fowls, is one that occurs often in 
mongrel fowls and must have appeared times without number in 
the evolution of every race which, for any considerable period, 
was of various colors. Compared with the color of the Dark 
Brahma, the color pattern of the Light Brahma represents the almost 
complete elimination of black from the body plumage, while the 
tail remains black, the wings black and white (the black or black- 
and-white flights concealed when the wing is folded), and the 
hackle retains the black stripe. The early Light Brahmas had not 
excessive feather development, nor did that feature become seri- 
ously detrimental to the variety until about the close of the last 
century. American Standard weights for Light Brahmas are cock, 
12 pounds ; cockerel, 10 pounds ; hen, 9^ pounds ; pullet, 8 pounds. 
The Standard weights for adults are often exceeded in birds much 
under a year old. 

NOTE. Though not adapted to the general requirements of poultry culture 
in America, the Asiatic meat type, until spoiled by breeding for extreme feather 
development, occupied an important position. It was the most satisfactory type 
for the production of large roasting cMickens, and when properly handled, laid 
as well as any other. It was best suited to northerly latitudes and well-drained 
soils, and to men with skill and judgment in handling poultry. This class was 
dependent for popularity upon the fanciers to a much greater extent than the 
laying and general-purpose classes. As long as the fanciers preserved a useful 
type, their cull specimens (particularly of the Light Brahma) were much sought 
by market poultry growers. When the fanciers developed the type beyond 
utility lines, they lost the market for their culls ; the poultry growers who had 
become dependent on them for stock were unable to procure what they needed, 
and turned to other breeds. There is still in the country a great deal of Light 
Brahma stock good for practical purposes, but it is widely scattered. Some 
effort is being made to bring back the old types of Asiatics. How successful 
such an effort may be, only time can show. 

General-purpose types. While the credit of developing the mod- 
ern general-purpose type of fowl belongs principally to American 
poultry keepers, in a sense every effort to improve utility qualities 
represents progress toward the combination of laying and table 
qualities. The European meat types, as developed from European 
laying types, are as good layers as their progenitors, and much better 
fleshed. The Asiatic meat type, while carrying more meat than 


most varieties of the European, but generally of inferior quality, 
were (with good handling) quite as productive of eggs as any other 
type. But the European fowls as a whole lacked the rugged vitality 
of the Asiatics, and almost without exception had some superficial 
feature to which the plainly practical American farmer objected. 
On the other hand, the Asiatics were not only inclined to coarse- 
ness in flesh, but were heavy-boned and much larger than was 
desirable for general-market or necessary for laying purposes. 

Consequently (as stated in Chapter II) acquaintance with the 
races of poultry as improved in Europe and Asia moved poultry 
keepers in America to efforts to combine these different types with 
one another or with native stocks in order to produce medium-sized 
fowls of plain type, of great vigor, and adapted to a wide range of 
conditions. While these efforts were greatly stimulated by the ex- 
ploitation of the Asiatic type, that they began much earlier is evi- 
dent from the references to the old Hawk-Colored, or Dominique, 
fowls, and from the fact that at least two breeds (the Bucks County 
Fowls and the Jersey Blue), formed by combining Asiatic and 
native blood, had acquired a name and a more than local reputation 
before the first exhibition in 1849. 

Early gray-barred types is the most appropriate general descrip- 
tion of the color prototypes of the Barred Plymouth Rock. The 
color type is a common one, the patterns occurring in all races in 
which (or at the stage when) plumage colors are various. Fowls of 
this color pattern went by different names. They were sometimes 
described as hawk-colored. They were called Dominique, and also 
by several variations of that name, Dominick, Dominiker, Domin- 
ican. They were called, too, Cuckoo Prowls. In many cases these 
names were given on account of color, without reference to other 
points (just as later every barred fowl was called a Plymouth Rock), 
but it is quite probable that some of them were of a race with 
other characteristics somewhat fixed. Some early American writers 
on the Dominique say that it was introduced from France. As the 
best type shown in illustrations of the period conforms generally 
to the description of the French Cuckoo, it seems highly probable 
that that race was the most important factor in fixing the type of 
the American Dominique, and that the American Dominique is 
no more American than the Leghorn or the Cochin. 



FIG. 392. Dominique cockerel. (Photograph 

from owner, W. H. Davenport, Coleraine, 


Doniiniques, as devel- 
, oped either by amalgama- 
tion of early barred types 
or by preference for the 
type which became fixed 
and dominant, were small 
medium-sized fowls with 
rose combs. In shape and 
carriage they resembled 
Hamburgs and Leghorns, 
though more substantially 
built. They were rugged 
and hardy, good layers, 
fattened well, and made 
good table poultry. The 
males were much lighter 
in- color than Standard 
Barred Rock males of to- 
day, more resembling the 

pullet-bred Barred Rock male. The principal difference between 
them and the French Cuckoo is the color of the skin. 

This type of Dominique has 
almost disappeared. With few ex- 
ceptions, the type now closely ap- 
proximates the Barred Plymouth 
Rock in shape as well as in general 
shade of color. The barring is not 
so clear as that of the Plymouth 
Rock, and the birds are smaller, 
American Standard weights being 
cock, 8 pounds; cockerel, /pounds; 
hen, 6 pounds ; pullet, 5 pounds. 
Efforts made from time to time to 
revive the popularity of the Domi- 
nique have usually been based on 
claims of inherent breed qualities 
superior to those of the Plymouth Rock, but have met with little 
success. Though rated a hardy fowl in comparison with the 

FIG. 393. Dominique hen. (Photo- 
graph from owners, Dr. Skerritt 
and Son, Utica, New York) 


European races to which it properly belonged, the Dominique 
had not the rugged, vigorous constitution of the Asiatics and 
of the American types developed by fusion of European and 
Asiatic races. 

Earliest American general-purpose types. If there were no 
other evidence of the presence of Asiatic fowls in America long 
before the dates given for their introduction, the existence of at 
least two well-defined varieties formed by combination of Asiatic 
stock with native stock of European origin should establish the 
fact. The Jersey Blue and the Bucks County Fowl, both of this 
type, had a more than local reputation and were somewhat widely 
distributed before the sensational exploitation of the Asiatic type. 
It is possible, too, that the Rhode Island Red type existed at that 
time, though the breed was scarcely heard of, outside of the locality 
in which it originated, until nearly half a century later. 

Jersey Blues are said to have been made by crossing Black 
Spanish with Malays or Shanghais. They were of medium size, 
with single combs, red ear lobes, and the plumage coloration of 
the Andalusian. After the name became known, it was customary 
all over the country to call any blue fowl a Jersey Blue, and the 
name was often given to mongrels from chance matings of black 
and white fowls. 

Bucks County Fowls were developed in Bucks County, Pennsyl- 
vania, by crossing Asiatic and native stocks. In everything but 
color they were of the Barred Plymouth Rock type. The color 
was buff, usually a dingy buff, with some black in the hackle, 
wings, and tail, and often in other parts of the plumage. Why 
this variety, widely known by name and as meritorious as the 
Plymouth Rock, failed to attract more attention is one of the 
puzzles of the history of varieties of poultry. Considerable flocks 
of them could be found in places in the eastern states until after 
the Buff Plymouth Rock became well established. In the making 
of that variety they were probably used much more extensively than 
has been admitted. Certainly they offered the best foundation 
stock, having the Plymouth Rock type and a color so closely ap- 
proaching buff that they frequently produced specimens of better 
color than many of the early winners among Buff Rocks. There 
are probably some stocks of Bucks County Fowls still to be found, 


but many of the stocks long kept pure have been converted into 
Buff Plymouth Rocks. 

Transient forms of this type were produced in great abundance 
and in all colors. Among them the type that first bore the name 
"Plymouth Rock," made from a mixture of Asiatic and Dorking 
blood, seems to have been for a short period sufficiently popular 
to be remembered and to make its reputation something of an 
asset to the promoters of the modern Plymouth Rock. This early 
Plymouth Rock had the principal general-purpose-class character- 
istics, but the color pattern seems to have been indeterminate, a 
black-red type with no fixed pattern in the female. Many of the 
birds had five toes, and the legs were of various colors. Consider- 
ing the popular attitude toward types of fowls, the almost universal 
practice of crossing (among all poultry keepers except the few breed- 
ing for definite superficial features), and the numbers of breeders 
who were seeking to make a type of general-purpose fowl that 
would meet the general demand, it is highly probable that speci- 
mens closely approximating or presenting the principal characteris- 
tics of every one of our modern varieties of this type were produced 
again and again, and for the most part mingled with the general 
stock and passed without notice. A few were developed by the 
breeders who claimed to have discovered them. Occasionally one 
of these attained some reputation, and perhaps figured in the 
development of a permanent variety. 

Origin of the Barred Plymouth Rock. About 1864 or 1865 (the 
date is uncertain) Joseph Spalding, of Putnam, Connnecticut, at the 
instance of John Giles, of Woodstock in the same state, mated a 
hawk-colored cock with some Black Cochin (then sometimes called 
Java) hens. The cross produced cockerels mostly like the sire. 
The pullets were mostly black or nearly black, but a few were 
marked like the males. Reverend D. A. Upham, of Wilson ville, 
Connecticut, saw the birds and with some difficulty persuaded Spald- 
ing to sell him the best-marked and cleanest-legged cockerel and the 
two best pullets. From this trio and its progeny Mr. Upham bred 
for several years. While Spalding and Upham were working with 
this stock, and before it was introduced to the public, a Mr. Drake, 
of Stoughton, Massachusetts, had produced birds of the same general 
type and color by mating hawk-colored females with Asiatic males, 


either Light Brahma or White Cochin. Both varieties may have 
been used, but the Drake stock showed pronounced traces of 
Brahma rather than of Cochin blood. 

In March, 1869, Upham exhibited his birds as Barred Plymouth 
Rocks, at Worcester, Massachusetts, where they made a sensation 
and entered on a career of popularity so far-reaching that within 
twenty years it was estimated that they outnumbered all other pure- 
bred varieties of fowls in the United States. Their popularity had 
brought out other varieties of the type and greatly stimulated inter- 
est in them here, while in England the type, though of a color of 
skin and legs not favored there, was rapidly displacing the Euro- 
pean races, until an English style of the same type was produced 
in the Orpington. 

Early strains of Barred Plymouth Rock. The instant popu- 
larity of the Plymouth Rock l created a demand for them far be- 
yond what could be supplied from the Spalding, Upham, and Drake 
stocks. Those who were so fortunate as to secure stock from these 
earliest originators had, if they used it to advantage, several years 
the start of others. Many who could not get this stock made crosses 
to produce the type. Though the facts in such cases would probably 
not be recorded, no one who knows the ways of poultry breeding 
can doubt that there were throughout the country many birds of 
this type (in the rough), and that hundreds of breeders began to 
mate such specimens as they had or could procure, using blood 
from the more advanced lines of breeding when it could be ob- 
tained. The best of the early strains were the Upham, Drake, 
Gilman, and Essex, the latter being an improved Upham strain, 
developed first in Essex County, Massachusetts, by Mark Pitman, 
and later by H. B. May at Natick, Massachusetts. This stock, though 
the best of the early Plymouth Rocks, lacked much of meeting the 
ideals of fanciers. The stock as it came into May's possession 
seemed to lack stamina. He tried a Light Brahma cross on some 
of it, with unsatisfactory results. Then he chanced on a cock de- 
scribed as a grade Game, which he thought promised to give the 
desired results. This bird (a black-red in color) had yellow legs 
and a very full breast. The cross proved most satisfactory. In 

1 Until the white variety appeared, the term " barred " was not used. The breed 
was simply the " Plymouth Rock." 



FIG. 394. Dominique cock. (Photograph from 
owner, A. Q. Carter, Freeport, Maine) 

three years the undesirable 
features that it brought 
had been bred out, and in 
the May stock of the orig- 
inal Essex strain had ap- 
peared the modern Barred 
Plymouth Rock. It was in 
his work with this stock 
that May devised the 
double system of mating 
necessary to produce birds 
that match in the show pen. 
The Barred Plymouth 
Rock. As bred for exhibi- 
tion the Barred Plymouth 
Rock owes most of its merit 
to the May-Essex strain. 

The blood has been so widely distributed and so effectively used 
that, whatever the founda- 
tion,- practically all Barred 
Rock stock of first-rate qual- 
ity presents the character 
first successfully developed 
in it. Individual taste in 
poultry breeders, and indi- 
vidual qualities in the birds 
they use, tend to slight vari- 
ations in stocks, but pro- 
nounced strain differences 
have quite disappeared. In 
color there has been con- 
stant improvement. The 
ideal, from the time when 
Upham first saw the cross- 
bred Spalding chickens, was 
a bluish-gray bird barred 

evenly all Over both FlG -395- Barred Plymouth Rock cock. (Pho- 
1 tograph from United States Department of 

sexes of the same shade Agriculture) 


FIG. 396. Dominique hen 

(Photograph from owner, 

A. Q. Carter) 

and markings. It was found impossible to produce this with regu- 
larity by mating males and females of the desired shade, and in 

consequence the double-mating system 
has been used to give this result. There 
are really two subvarieties of the Exhi- 
bition Barred Plymouth Rock, usually de- 
scribed as the male line and the female 
line respectively. 

The Exhibition male is produced by 
mating Exhibition males to females of 
the same line of breeding, these being 
very much darker and less distinctly barred 
than the males. 

The Exhibition female is produced by 
mating Exhibition females to males of the 
same line of breeding, these being much 
lighter in shade and usually less distinctly 
barred. The color of the Barred Plymouth 

Rock is most difficult to describe. It varies in varying lights, and 

the effect depends much also on 

the width and regularity of the 

bars. As now described in the 

American Standard, the ground 

is grayish-white, the dark bars 

stopping short of positive black. 
White Plymouth Rocks. The 

credit of introducing the White 

Plymouth Rock as such to the 

public is generally conceded to 

O. F. Frost, of Monmouth, Maine. 

The Frost stock, considered the 

best of the early strains, is said 

to have come, about 1875-1876, 

as sports from the barred variety. 

Such sports still sometimes come 

from matings of Barred Rocks 

and, according to the common testimony of those who have had 

and who have bred them, almost invariably reproduce only white 

FIG. 397. Barred Plymouth Rock hen 
(Photograph from United States De- 
partment of Agriculture) 



birds when mated to- 
gether or mated with 
White Plymouth Rock 
stock. With sporting 
still occurring, it is 
easy to accept the 
statements of the early 
breeders of Barred 
Rocks, who say that 
white sports were com- 
mon. From the use of 
white fowls in matings 
to produce Barred 
Plymouth Rocks it 
may be inferred that 
white specimens were 
often produced in con- 
siderable numbers by 
direct transmission of 
color and by reversion 
to known ancestors. It is also probable that many white fowls of 
this type were produced from 
accidental crosses. It is further 
quite well established that some 
were produced with design to 
make a White Plymouth Rock by 
breeders who preferred that color. 
Up to the time of their admission 
to the American Standard, white 
fowls of this type went by vari- 
ous names. After that the vari- 
ations in type were harmonized 
and strain differences gradually 
eliminated as in the barred vari- 
ety. For some time after their 

FIG. 398- White Plymouth Rock cock, owned by 

Urban Farms, Pine Ridge, Buffalo, New York 

(Photograph by Schilling) 

introduction the White Rocks 
were usually considered less vig- 
orous than the others, but if that 

FIG. 399. White Plymouth Rock hen 

(Photograph from owner, C. E. Hodg- 

kins, Northampton, Massachusetts) 


FIG. 400. Buff Plymouth Rock hen 

(Photograph from owner, J. A. Ashline, 

Fitchburg, Massachusetts) 

difference ever actually existed, 
it has long since disappeared. 
The color needs no special 

Buff Plymouth Rocks. As 
first shown, Buff Plymouth 
Rocks were Rhode Island 
Reds of light shade and with 
single combs, selected from 
farm flocks in the district 
where the Rhode Island Red 
had become the common fowl. 
This was in 1890, when Buff 
Leghorns were being intro- 
duced to Americans and the 
"craze" for buff color was 
beginning. This Rhode Island 

Red stock was the foundation for some of the early strains of 
Buff Rocks, but seems to have had much less influence on the 
variety as a whole 
than the crosses of 
Asiatic and Mediter- 
ranean races which 
were made to produce 
it directly. The Buff 
Cochin with White 
Plymouth Rock or 
Buff Leghorn gave the 
best results. White 
Leghorn and Buff Co- 
chin were also used. 
To some extent the 
Bucks County Fowl 
and the single-combed 
specimens of the Buff 
Wyandotte entered in- 
to the making of the FlG> 40I< Buff pi ymou th Rock cock. (Photograph 
race. Like the other by Graham) 



color types of the Plymouth Rock, it was a type of frequent occur- 
rence, and as soon as a demand for it arose, the work of fixing the 
type began. With the materials to work with, this process was 
comparatively short, and within ten years of its first public appear- 
ance the color was quite as good as in Buff Cochins. 

Partridge Plymouth Rocks, and the two following varieties, 
may be regarded as originally by-products in the manufacture of 

Wyandotte varieties of 
the same color. In most 
varieties of Wyandottes, 
and particularly in the 
early stages of develop- 
ment, single combs have 
occurred frequently ; and 
the single-combed Wy- 
andotte, though perhaps 
not of ideal shape, is to 
all appearances a Plym- 
outh Rock of the color 
that it carries. The col- 
oration of the Partridge 
Plymouth Rock is of the 
black-red pattern, exactly 
following the description 
FIG. 402. Partridge Plymouth Rock cockerel o f the Partridge Cochin. 
(Photograph from owner, S. A. Noftzger, North crocks of this vari 

Manchester, Indiana) 

ety were made, at least 
in part, from Brown Leghorn and Partridge Cochin crosses. 

Silver-Penciled Plymouth Rocks came from the same sources 
as the W T yandotte of the same description. The coloration is of the 
black-white pattern, following the Dark Brahma style of markings. 

Columbian Plymouth Rocks present the Plymouth Rock charac- 
teristics with the Light Brahma coloration. While some may have 
been derived from other sources, the single-combed specimens of 
the Columbian Wyandotte have been a more than sufficient source 
of supply. 

Javas. As has been stated, the name "Java" was sometimes 
given to the Black Cochin. With a more discriminating use of 


names this was applied to large 
black fowls with small single 
combs and smooth yellow or 
yellowish legs. In the early 
history of the Barred Plymouth 
Rock many black specimens 
were produced. These seem 
to have been the chief source 
of supply, though doubtless 
other black fowls were used. 
The Black Java was the prin- 
cipal variety given this name, 
but there were also white and 
mottled (black-and-white) birds 
of this type, these being 
colors likely to occur in rever- 
sion and (coming from the Java 
stock) to be considered as be- 
longing to that breed. None 
of the varieties of the Java have ever been popular. As varieties 
of the Plymouth Rock they might have fared better. 

FIG. 403. Columbian Plymouth Rock 
cockerel. (Photograph from owner, 
S. C. Allen, Orchard Park, New York) 

FIG. 404. Columbian Plymouth Rock pullets. (Photograph from owner, 
S. C. Allen) 



FIG. 405. Silver-Laced Wyandotte 

hen, owned by J. C. Patterson, 

Monsey, New York. (Photograph 

by Schilling) 

"American Sebright." With 
statement of the develop- 
ment of the breed is simpli- 
fied by applying the present 
name to it at all stages. 

The Silver-Laced Wyan- 
dotte. Accounts of the ori- 
gin of this variety are very 
unsatisfactory ; the most cir- 
cumstantial of them credits 
a Mr. Ray, of Hemlock 
Lake, New York, with pro- 
ducing, about 1868-1869, 
from a cross of Silver Se- 
bright Bantam and Yellow 
Chittagong(or Buff Cochin), 
fowls which he called Se- 
bright Cochins, which be- 
came the foundation stock 
of this variety. These birds 

The Wyandottes. The popu- 
larity of the Barred Plymouth Rock 
led to a search for, and to the de- 
velopment of, another breed even 
earlier than the development of 
the white variety of the Plymouth 
Rock. The ideal of the Barred 
Plymouth Rock was definitely fixed 
from the beginning of the history 
of the breed. Not so, apparently, 
was the ideal of the first of the 
Wyandottes, a name conferred 
on them in 1883, when they were 
admitted to the American Stand- 
ard. Prior to that time fowls of 
the general-purpose type with rose 
combs went by a number of names, 
the most familiar of which was 
this explanation to show the fact, the 

FIG. 406. Silver-Laced Wyandotte cock, 

owned by J. C. Patterson. (Photograph 

by Schilling) 


were not distinctly laced and 
showed considerable yellow. 
They had both rose and 
single combs. On this foun- 
dation were used crosses of 
Silver-Spangled Hamburg 
and Dark Brahma, and also 
a black fowl known as a 
Breda, of supposed Rus- 
sian origin. This does not 
strike the student of races of 
poultry as a likely account. 
While it is not impossible 
that poor lacing from a 
bantam source might be 
intensified by adding to it 
spangling, penciling, and 
black, it is improbable. A 
more credible though not 
well-attested account says 
that a general-purpose type of 
fowl, with the laced pattern not 
regularly developed, ranging in 

FIG. 407. Golden-Laced Wyandotte cock 

(Photograph from owners, Wood and 

Freeman, Fitchburg, Massachusetts) 

FIG. 408. Golden-Laced Wyandotte 

hen. (Photograph from owners, 

Wood and Freeman) 

FIG. 409. Three-quarters rear view 

of Golden- Laced Wyandotte cock 

in Fig. 407 



shade from very light to very dark, and with both rose and single 
combs, was a common type in one or more communities in the 
state of New York, and furnished the material from which the Sil- 
ver Wyandotte was developed, largely by selection. This version 
carries more probability than the other, even though it offers no 
explanation of the origin of the color pattern and makes no attempt 
to show what elements composed the stock. It makes the Silver 

Wyandotte one of the numerous 
types early developed in efforts 
to fix a general-purpose type, 
making some progress locally on 
its merits and, after the success 
of the Barred Rock had stimu- 
lated breeders to new efforts, 
taken up for the development of 
the ideal of which it was then 
only a suggestion. The favorite 
type of the early Silver Wyan- 
dottes was much darker than that 
with which breeders are now 
familiar. The modern exhibition 
birds of this variety have the 
color of the Silver Polish, but 
with black tails. 

The Golden-Laced Wyandotte 
was produced in Wisconsin by 
crossing the silver-laced variety 

with a local breed known as the Winnebago, the origin of which is 
unknown. 1 The color pattern is the same as in the silver-laced 

1 In " Wyandottes : Silver, Golden, Black, and White," by Joseph Wallace, 1891, 
Joseph McKeen, of Omro, Wisconsin, is quoted as denying that the W T innebagos 
had been bred a long time in Wisconsin, and claiming that he originated them. 
McKeen places the beginning of his work with the Winnebagos " a few years 
after " 1872 or 1873, ano ^ indicates that, at the time he crossed them with the Silver- 
Laced Wyandottes, they were in a very crude condition. At about the time when 
McKeen said that he was beginning to make the Winnebagos, the author, then a 
boy in Galena, Illinois, bought, in the market of that town, two hens called Winne- 
bagos, of a redder ground color than the early Golden Wyandottes, and as well laced 
as the average Golden Wyandotte of fifteen to twenty years later. No doubt 
McKeen owed much more to such Winnebagos than he was willing to admit. 

FIG. 410. White Wyandotte cock, 

owned by J. W. Andrews, Dighton, 



FIG. 411 . White Wyandotte pullet, 
owned by A. G. Duston, South 
Framingham, Massachusetts. (Pho- 
tograph by Sewell) 

variety, with a ground of golden bay 
instead of white. 

White Wyandottes were produced 
as sports from the lighter specimens 
of the early silver-laced variety, and 
also (it may safely be presumed) by 
every cross that promised a rose- 
combed white fowl of this general 
type. In fact, for a long time after 
the variety was introduced, any rose- 
combed white fowl with yellow legs 
that was larger than an ordinary Leg- 
horn was offered, and often passed, 
as a White Wyandotte. The stock, 
as introduced in 1885 by Reverend 
B. M. Briggs, then of Wyandale, New 
York, was of Silver- Laced Wyandotte origin. The very heavy- 
bodied, dark-egg strains of some years later bore unmistakable 
traces of Light Brahma blood. As with other American varieties 
time and wide distribution of 
the best stocks has gradually 
produced great uniformity of 
type. After the Barred Plym- 
outh Rock, the White Wyan- 
dotte became the most popular 
variety in America ; and within 
ten years of its introduction it 
was regarded as a dangerous 
rival of the Barred Plymouth 
Rock. Had the competition 
been between the Barred Plym- 
outh Rock and the White Wy- 
andotte alone, the latter would 
have led in the end, but the 
White Wyandotte had to divide 
with the White Plymouth Rock 

the favor of those who wanted 
a white fowl of its class. 

FIG. 412. White Wyandotte cockerel, 

owned by J. W. Andrews, Dighton, 



FIG. 413. Black Wyandotte cock. (Pho- 
tograph from owner, F. S. Chaffee, 
Rutland, Vermont) 

The Buff Wyandotte. The 
history of this variety closely 
parallels that of the Buff 
Plymouth Rock. It was first 
introduced to the public at 
the same time and place, by 
the same men, and with stock 
from the same source, 
rose-combed buff birds from 
the farm flocks of Rhode 
Island Reds. Elsewhere Buff 

FIG. 415. Buff Wyandotte cockerel 
(Photograph by E. J. Hall) 

FIG. 414. Black Wyandotte hen 
owned by F. S. Chaffee. (Photo- 
graph from owner) 

Wyandottes were made from 
a variety of crosses, one of 
the best being the cross of 
Golden Wyandotte and Buff 

Black Wyandottes. About 
the time that white specimens 
from Silver- Laced Wyandottes 
were being bred together to 
form a white variety of the 
breed, the black specimens, 


which also appeared occasionally, were used by a few breeders to 
make a black variety. Black Wyandottes have never become pop- 
ular, but a few fanciers have continued to breed them, and the stock 
of this variety seen in exhibitions is usually of very good quality. 

Partridge (or Golden- Penciled] Wyandottes were made by 
crosses of Golden Wyandotte and Partridge Cochin, with the 
further infusion, in one of the principal strains (known as the 

FIG. 416. Silver-Penciled Wyandottes. (Photograph from owner, James S. Wason, 
Grand Rapids, Michigan) 

Brackenbury-Cornell, or Eastern, strain), of Rose-Comb Brown 
Leghorn and Golden-Penciled Hamburg blood, and in the other 
(known as the Western strain), of Cornish Indian Game blood. 
These strains were quite distinct until after the admission of the 
variety to the American Standard in 1 90 1 . Since then they have 
been mingled, and the modern stock of this variety is practically 
a blend of these two lines. The coloration in the Silver Penciled 
Wyandotte is the same as that of the Partridge Cochin. 



FIG. 417. Columbian Wyandotte cockerel 

U. Lincoln Orr, Orr's Mills, New York 

(Photograph by Sewell) 

The Silver-Penciled Wyan- 
dotte was produced almost 
simultaneously with the Brack- 
enbury- Cornell strain of the 
foregoing variety, by the same 
breeders, and was admitted to 
the Standard only a year later, 
in 1902. This variety was 
made by mating a Dark 
Brahma hen to a Partridge 
Wyandotte male, and Dark 
Brahma and Silver-Penciled 
Hamburg females to a Silver- 
Laced Wyandotte male, and 
by breeding selected speci- 
mens from the offspring of 
these matings. The coloration 
is the same as of the Dark 
Columbian Wyandottes were introduced in 1893 by B. M. 

Briggs (who introduced the White Wyandottes). The name was 

given in 'honor of the Columbian Exposition in progress at the 

time. The color and markings 

are the same as of the Light 

Brahma. In the original Briggs 

stock the color was produced first 

from a chance mating of a White 

Wyandotte cock and a Barred 

Plymouth Rock hen. The variety, 

when introduced, attracted little 

attention. A few breeders took it 

up, and some of them, not satis- 
fied with the color and having 

little confidence in getting what 

they desired by selection from the 

original stock, resorted to other 

crosses. The White Wvandotte FlG ' 4l8 ' Columbian Wyandotte 

anrl T io4^ 13 u pullet, D. Lincoln Orr. (Photograph 

and Light Brahma were used, and by Sewell} 


also the White Wyandotte and Rose-Combed Rhode Island Red. 

Both of these crosses gave birds of stronger color than the origi- 
nal. The variety is still 1 in the 
formative stage, nearly all breeders 
still either crossing or working out 
undesirable features introduced by 
crossing. Though almost unno- 
ticed for about ten years after its 

FIG. 419. Columbian Wyandotte 

hen. Sunny Brook Farm, West 

Orange, New Jersey 2 

FIG. 420. Columbian Wyandotte cockerel 
Sunny Brook Farm 2 

introduction to the public, when 
it began to attract attention its 
popularity increased very rapidly. 
It is now generally regarded as 
likely to become one of the most 

FIG. 421. Columbian Wyandotte 

pullet, Sunny Brook Farm 2 popular varieties of its class. 

Rhode Island Reds. About the 

middle of the last century, by such mixtures of native, European, 
and Asiatic stock as were then being made all over the eastern 


2 Photograph by Graham. 



United States, the Rhode Island Reds were developed as the 
common fowls of the poultry-farming district of Rhode Island. 
Since that time they have developed continuously by absorption 

FIG. 422. Single-Combed Rhode 
Island Red pullet 1 

FIG. 423. Single-Combed Rhode 
Island Red hen 

of the blood of almost all races that have attracted notice, the 
red color and the general-purpose type being preserved through 
it all. As bred on these farms 
little attention was given, as a 
rule, to selection for a partic- 
ular shade or for uniformity of 
color, though a few stocks were 
selected with some care as to 
such points. In size and shape 
they varied much more than is 
usual when any form of selec- 
tion has long been practiced. 
As has been said, the first Buff 
Plymouth Rocks and Buff Wy- 
andottes shown in America were 
light-colored Rhode Island Reds. 
In the farm stock single, rose, ^ 

FIG. 424. Rose-Combed Rhode Island 

and pea combs were found, and Red cock 

1 Birds in Figs. 422-427 owned by Lester Tompkins, Concord, Massachusetts. 
Photographs by Schilling. 


when first taken up by fanciers, 
they were bred as three vari- 
eties. Later the pea-combed 
variety was dropped. It is said 
that they were exhibited as 
Rhode Island Reds at shows in 
southern Massachusetts about 
1879-1880. No classes were 
provided for them at shows until 
about twenty years later. They 
were not shown at New York 
and Boston until about 1900. 
For some years they were very 
uneven in color, ranging from 
buff to a chocolate brown, with 
size and shape quite as variable. 
Gradually the color was devel- 
oped as a rich, brilliant red with 

black in the tail and wings and a little black ticking in the hackle 
of the female ; the size and shape also were made more uniform 
and more in conformity with other American varieties of this class. 
For some years after it was taken up by fanciers, interest in the 
Rhode Island Red was mostly confined to southern New England. 

FIG. 425. Single-Combed Rhode Island 
Red cock 


426. Rose-Combed Rhode 
Island Red hen 

FIG. 427. Rose-Combed Rhode 
Island Red pullet 



FIG. 428. Buckeye cockerel. (Photo- 
graph from owner, Eugene Cowles, 
Shelbyville, Kentucky) 

The intensity of interest there 
made a wide impression and at 
present it is well distributed 
in America. . 

The Buckeye was first bred 
in Ohio as a red pea-combed 
fowl before the Rhode Island 
Reds were known there. They 
differed so slightly from pea- 
combed Rhode Island Reds 
that when the originator made 
the acquaintance of the Rhode 
Island varieties, the name 
" Buckeye " was discarded. 
After the Rhode Island Red 
fanciers decided not to con- 
tinue breeding a pea-combed 
variety, the name " Buckeye " 
was again given to the Ohio 
stock, and under that name it 

was admitted to the American Standard, with some changes in 

description of color and form to give a different breed character. 
The Orpingtons. This breed 

takes its name from the town of 

Orpington, Kent, England, where 

it was developed by Mr. William 

Cook, the avowed object being to 

produce a breed of the general- 
purpose type better adapted to 

English requirements than the 

Barred Plymouth Rock and the 

Silver--Laced Wyandotte, both of 

which were rapidly growing in 

popularity in that country. The 

characteristic difference between 

Orpingtons and the American 

general-purpose varieties is the 

color of the skin (gray or white) 

FIG. 429. Buckeye pullet (Photo- 
graph from owner, Eugene Cowles) 


FIG. 430. Single-Combed Black 

Orpington cockerel. (Photograph 

from owner, W. E. Matthews, 

New London, Connecticut) 

and legs (black or flesh color). 
The typical Orpington is also a 
heavier-bodied bird, comparing 
with American birds of the type 
as do the English Minorcas and 
Leghorns with American types of 
those breeds. The color varieties 
are black, buff, white, variegated 
(the " Diamond Jubilee "), and 
spangled. In some varieties there 
are both rose- and single-combed 
subvarieties, as indicated in the 
following descriptions. Thus in 
the Orpington are combined the 
general form and both styles of 
comb found in fowls of the Amer- 
ican general-purpose type. 

Black Orpingtons (single- and 
rose-comb). This, the first variety 

of the Orpington, was said by the originator to have been produced 

by a series of crosses in which 

Black Plymouth Rocks, Black 

Minorcas, and clean-legged Black 

Langshans were used. English 

writers familiar with the variety 

in England assert that it shows 

Black Cochin blood more con- 
spicuously than anything else, and 

the appearance of many of the 

specimens shown in America sup- 
ports this view. The Cochin type, 

however, is not the exclusive 

type in the Black Orpington. 

Both the Langshan type and the 

long-bodied Plymouth Rock type 

are found. Consideration of such 

facts indicates that, whatever may have been true of the stock of 

the originator, the single-comb Black Orpington is at present a 

FIG. 431. Single-Combed Black 

Orpington hen. (Photograph from 

owner, W. E. Matthews) 



FIG. 432. Rose-Combed Black Orpington 
cockerel, an immature bird * 

composite of nearly all the 
earlier varieties of black fowls 
with single combs. The Rose- 
Comb Black Orpington is said 
to have been produced by mat- 
ing Rose-Comb Black Lang- 
shan males with pullets from 
the Minorca-Black Plymouth 
Rock cross used for the single- 
combed subvariety. The black 
variety was presented to the 
public in 1886. 

Buff Orpingtons (single- and 
rose-comb). The originator's 
account of the making of this 
variety gives the Buff Cochin 
as the foundation stock, with 
the Golden-Spangled Hamburg 
and Dark Dorking as the other 

components. The prevailing opinion among disinterested English 

authorities is that the Buff Orping- 
ton is, as one writer puts it, "a 

refined Lincolnshire Buff." The 

Lincolnshire Buff is a breed devel- 
oped locally, like the Bucks County 

Fowl and the Rhode Island Red 

in America. The Buff Orpington, 

accordingly, would bear the same 

relation to it as a Buff Plymouth 

Rock to a Bucks County Fowl, or 

an improved Rhode Island Red 

to the ordinary red fowl of .the 

Little Compton farms. Whatever 

the facts as to the original stock, 

here again there is no doubt that 

when the variety became popular, any buff fowl approximating the 

type might be passed for a Buff Orpington, and the variety to-day 

1 Photographs from owner, II. C. Faulkner, Marshall, Michigan. 

FIG. 433. Rose-Combed Black 
Orpington pullet 1 


FIG. 434. Single-Combed Buff 
Orpington pullet l 

is the result of the blending of all 
these stocks. This variety was intro- 
duced to the public in 1894. To-day 
it is rated the most popular of English 

H^HM^^^I varieties in the colonies, as well as in 

the mother country. 

White Orpingtons (single- and rose- 
comb). This variety was said by the 
originator to have resulted from crosses 
of White Leghorn, Black Hamburg, 
Single-Comb White Dorking, and 
Cuckoo Dorking. It was brought out 
in 1 889. The appearance of the White 
Orpington indicates White Cochin 
blood as one of its important factors. 
With the White Dorking this would 

produce the type more directly and more uniformly than the more 

complex crosses. As the 

variety was made just after 

the White Wyandotte and 

White Plymouth Rock in 

this country, these might 

easily have been used in the 

making of it. Indeed, with 

the two styles- of comb the 

White Orpington, like the 

white varieties of the class 

in this country, made a place 

for any smooth-legged fowl, 

of the color desired, not 

readily referred to a previ- 
ously existing breed. 

Diamond Jubilee Orping- 
tons (single- and rose-comb) 

were brought out in 1897, 
the year of the Diamond 

FIG. 435. Single-Combed Buff Orpington 
cock, a rugged type 2 

1 Photograph from owner, Miss H. E. Hooker, South Hadley, Massachusetts. 

2 Photograph from United States Department of Agriculture. 



Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 
hence the name. The variety 
is said to have been produced 
in the same way as the Buff 
Orpington stock of the orig- 
inator, but with speckled in- 
stead of Dark Dorkings. The 
color is a mixture of black, 
brown, and white (such as has 
always occurred occasionally in 
flocks of mixed colors) ; this 
variety was bred with the pur- 
pose of securing uniform dis- 
tribution of the several colors, 
and a more pleasing effect 
than a nondescript pattern. 

Spangled Orpingtons (single- 
and rose-comb) are black-and- 
white mottled fowls said by 

the originator to have been produced by a mingling of Dark Dork- 
ing, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Silver 
Spangled Hamburg; they are declared 
by other English authorities to be identi- 
cal with the Speckled Sussex. Spangled 
Orpingtons were introduced to the pub- 
lic in 1899. 

FIG. 436. Single-Combed Buff Orpington 
cock, a very meaty specimen x 

NOTE. These six breeds (the Plymouth Rock, 
Java, Wyandotte, Rhode Island Red, Buckeye, 
and Orpington), with some thirty varieties and 
subvarieties, furnish, in the standard size, weight, 
and shape of body of each, all gradations be- 
tween the Leghorn laying type and the Asiatic 
meat type ; in combs, all the principal styles ; in 
colors and color patterns, almost all the distinct 
types found in other classes of fowls. Taking 
any one of these varieties, as the different stocks 
and as the birds in the flocks run, we find in it specimens of most (sometimes 
all) of the other types, and all the intermediate sizes and forms. Not only so, 

1 Photographs, Figs. 436-439 from owner, J. W. Clark, Cainsville, Ontario. 

FIG. 437. Single-Combed 
Buff Orpington hen 


but in the larger races are often found specimens and strains with the 
Asiatic body type, and in the smaller races specimens and strains with the 
body type of the small European races. The standard type in any case is 
simply the pattern or model selected for the breed. The proportion of any 
flock approaching it depends on the selection of the breeding stock and the de- 
velopment of the young stock. The ideal shape is preserved only in flocks 
carefully selected for that character, and so reared that full development is se- 
cured. In what are called the practical qualities, egg production and meat prop- 
erties, and in their adaptation to climatic and soil conditions and environment, 
they are substantially the same. The differences constantly observed between 
flocks of different breeds, varieties, and subvarieties are no greater than those 
constantly observed between stocks, flocks, and individuals of the same variety. 
Special excellence in any character or combination of characters, secured 
and made characteristic of a stock or strain by a breeder, may be in a measure 
transmitted to other stocks, and may persist for a while in his stock under un- 
favorable conditions, and even reappear in individuals after having been lost 
for some generations. Certain desirable characters or traits may be very persist- 
ent in some lines of blood in any variety ; undesirable features may be as per- 
sistent in other lines in the same variety. These observations apply to all races 
of poultry, but apply with particular force in consideration of this class because 
of the comparatively narrow range of standard weights and shapes. Descrip- 
tions of these, omitted from the separate descriptions of breeds and varieties, 
are here given, and with the weights for this class, weights of varieties of like 
weights in lighter and heavier classes. 








Eg; gf 













Rhode Island Red . . . 






6 1 









Plymouth Rock 









Lan~shan . 





A glance at this table shows plainly the difficulty of making sharp distinctions 
of shape in these breeds. The so-called breed types may be differentiated in 
verbal and pictorial descriptions, and in occasional specimens, but that in or- 
dinary breeding operations they should be somewhat confused is inevitable. 
The methods of judging exhibition poultry and the necessities of color breeding 
tend also to confusion of body types. 

4 22 


FIG. 438. Single-Combed Buff 
Orpington pullet 

Typically the differences in shape of 
body between these breeds are as fol- 
lows: The Rhode Island Red, compared 
with the Wyandotte (which has the 
same weights, except for the pullet), 
has a long body, described as " oblong " ; 
the Wyandotte, a chunky, " blocky " 
body. The Buckeye tends toward the 
Indian Game rather than the oblong 
Rhode Island Red shape. Compared 
with the Wyandotte and Rhode Island 
Red, the Plymouth Rock is longer-bodied 
than the Wyandotte and heavier than 
the Rhode Island Red, with more weight 
in the rear. The Java is longer and 
narrower than the Plymouth Rock, the 
Orpington broader and deeper. To 
some extent these differences depend 
upon length of plumage and carriage of 

the body. As between any breed and one immediately above or below it in 

the scale of size and weight, little difference in tendencies and adaptations is 

found. Between breeds at the ex- 
tremes, considerable differences may 

be noted. The lighter breeds are usu- 
ally more active and mature earlier, 

are less prone to put on fat, and have 

a longer productive life than the 

heavier, though the latter, while in 

suitable condition, are equally good 

layers. For table use the Rhode 

Island Reds are commonly rated 

rather inferior to Plymouth Rocks 

and Wyandottes, but this is wholly 

a matter of selection for meat qual- 
ity. Some stocks of Reds are as 

good table poultry as any of the 

other breeds of the class. As first 

introduced the Orpingtons were 

probably of higher average table 

quality than the American breeds 

because of more careful selection 

along that line in England ; as 

found now they average with the 

others. Choice among these varieties is largely a matter of personal preference 

for a particular color, or for a color adapted to some feature of the location. 

FIG. 439. Single-Combed Buff Orpington 


Continental European general-purpose types. The introduction 
of the heavy Asiatic type had less effect on the poultry of conti : 
nental Europe than on that of America and England. A few races 
were locally developed from mixtures of Asiatic with native stocks 
in the period following the excitement over the Asiatic type, but 
seem not to have attracted attention of poultry keepers as did the 
American and English varieties of this class when introduced 
later. The principal races made on general-purpose lines on the 
continent are as follows : 

The Faverolles were developed in the vicinity of the town of 
that name in France, from a variety of crosses on the common 
fowls of the district, which 
were largely of the ordinary 
Houdan type. Brahma and 
Cochin males were largely used, 
and also Dorkings. Apparently 
any large male was considered 
desirable. Faverolles differ 
from the American general- 
purpose type in the color of 
the skin and in retaining va- 
rious superfluous features, - 
the beard, the feathers on the 
legs, and the fifth toe. In 
their native district all colors 
are found. As bred by Eng- 
lish and American fanciers three varieties are designated : salmon, 
light, and black. The Salmon Faverolles are really an indeter- 
minate mixture of the black- or brown-red and black-white color 
patterns. The Light or Ermine Faverolles have the color pattern 
of the Light Brahma. The weight of males is from 6J- to 8^ 
pounds, of females, from 5 to 7 pounds. They are reported hardy, 
very rapid growers, and good layers. 

The Bourbourg, produced by crossing Brahmas on common 
fowls of the laying type in northern France, has the color of the 
Light Brahma, the size of the Wyandotte. 

The Estaires, produced by Game and Langshan crosses on 
common fowls of the laying type in northern France, are black 

FIG. 440. Salmon Faverolles hen. (Pho- 
tograph from E. T. Brown) 



FIG. 441. Red Pile Game 
Bantam cock 2 

in color, with a rather large single comb. They are about the size 
of the Wyandotte. 

The Prat is a variety produced in Spain by crossing Asiatic on 
native Spanish races. In size it compares with Wyandottes and 
Plymouth Rocks. The colors are various, 
brownish and yellowish tints predominating. 
It is a type similar to the Rhode Island Red, 
but with comb and tail more resembling the 
Mediterranean races. 

The M alines is a Belgian breed produced 
by crossing the Antwerp Brahma 1 and fowls 
of the Campine or Flemish Cuckoo stock. 
The colors are .cuckoo and white, the shape 
and general appearance much like the early 
type of Cochin and 
Brahma or like the 

Langshan. Weights : males, 9 to 1 1 \ 
pounds ; females, 8 to 10 pounds. 

The Huttegem is a mixture of. old Bel- 
gian with Asiatic races. The colors are 
various ; combs both single and rose ; legs 
feathered ; weights : males, 9 to 1 1 pounds ; 

. , females, 7 to 9 pounds. 

The Breda was pro- 
duced by crossing Asiatic on native Dutch stock. 
It is supposed that the breed may have originated 
from ancient importations of Asiatics, but recent 
crosses have given it much of its present char- 
acter. The prevalent colors are cuckoo, black, 
white, and blue. The comb is rudimentary ; feet 
slightly feathered ; weights : males, 61 to 9 pounds ; 
females, 5 to J\ pounds. 

Deformed types. Under this head may be 
described a few irregular forms. 

FIG. 442. Golden Duck- 
wing Game Bantam hen 2 

FIG. 443. Birchen 
Game Bantam cock 3 

1 The Antwerp Brahma is a race of Light Brahmas imported direct from China 
to the Antwerp Zoological Gardens, and there bred pure. 

2 Photograph from A. E. Blunck. 

8 Photograph from Hermitage Bantam Yards, Nashua, New Hampshire. 


FIG. 444. Rose-Comb 
Black Bantam hen J 

FIG. 445. Rose-Comb Black 

Bantam cock. (Photograph 

by Graham) 

Rumple 'ss, or tailless fowls. In the true rumpless the spine lacks 
the normal number of vertebrae, the terminal vertebra is deformed, 
and the fleshy formation from which 
the tail feathers 
grow is wanting. 
The feathers of the 
saddle hang down 
at the rear as at the 
sides. The colors 
are various. The de- 
formity is not reg- 
ularly reproduced, 
but occurs in some 
progeny. Many of 
the rumpless fowls shown in exhibitions are said to be manu- 
factured, the part on which the tail feathers are grown being 
removed when the bird is very small. 

Frizzles have feathers curved outward 
at the ends. This freak feature may be 
established if desired, but few poultrymen 
are interested in it. The birds are only 
used as novelties 
in exhibitions. 

Silkies. In the 
Silky fowls the 

web of the feather is hairlike. The plum- 
age is generally white. The skin is " black." 
They are believed to 
have originated in 
China or Japan, where 
they are said to be 

Bantams. Dwarfs come occasionally in all 
kinds of poultry, and there are references in 

FIG. 446. Silver Sebright 
Bantam hen 2 

FIG. 447. Silver Sebright 
Bantam cock 2 

1 Photograph from owner, Grove Hill Poultry Yards, 
Waltham, Massachusetts. 

2 Photograph from A. E. Blunck. 

8 Photograph from owner, Brook View Farm, New- 
bury, Massachusetts. 

FIG. 448. Silver 

Sebright Bantam 

cockerel 3 



FIG. 449. White Polish 
Bantam cock 2 

literature to dwarf races of fowls in Europe centuries ago. The 
name has been supposed to come from the province of Bantam, 
in Java, whence, it is said, were imported 
the first bantams to attract attention in Eng- 
land. Neither record nor reliable tradition 
gives any account of such importation. It 
was apparently assumed in order to connect 
dwarf fowls as a class with some place in 
Asia, at the time when it was fashionable to 
give Asiatic names to races of fowls. The 
popular name for a dwarf fowl is (and un- 
doubtedly was long before Asiatic fowls 
came to Europe) " banty," which probably 
comes from the Gaelic 
banna:, a jot, the small- 
est portion of anything, and from which were 
derived the Gaelic bean, bian, little, small. 1 

Economically bantams are of little impor- 
tance. As layers they are, as a rule, much 
inferior to large fowls. Only the largest spec- 
imens of the largest varieties are desirable for 
poultry. Most varieties are rather delicate, 
especially when young. 
Common bantams - 
that, is, those of no par- 
ticular breeding are kept mostly as chil- 
dren's pets. Standard-bred bantams are kept 
by fanciers to whom the type appeals and 
who take pleasure in working out the breed- 
ing problems that it presents. Dwarf types 
of nearly all races of fowls have been pro- 
duced, and there are a few quite unlike the 
large types. Singularly, types unpopular in 
large fowls are very likely to be popular in 
bantams, while the dwarf types of popular 
fowls attract comparatively little notice. The 

1 See Williams's Lexicon Cornu-Brittanicum, a Dictionary of the Gaelic Lan- 
guage of Ancient Cornwall. 2 Photograph by Graham. 

FIG. 450. White Polish 
Bantam hen 2 

FIG. 451. White Japan- 
ese Bantam cock 2 


avowed object in every case is to make the bantam, in shape, color, 
appurtenances, everything but size, just like the large breed 
that it resembles. The exact likeness desired is rarely secured 
, , some students of the types say, never. 

FIG. 452. Black Cochin 
Bantam cockerel 1 

Usually the head (and 
appurtenances), wings, 
and tail of the bantam 
are larger in proportion 
than those of the cor- 
responding ]arge fowls, 
and the carriage is dif- 
ferent, particularly in 
the males, which are 

FIG. 453. Black Co- 
chin Bantam pullet 1 

the most insolent and pugnacious of birds, often domineering over 
cocks of the large breeds, and always ready to attack anything. 
The most common and best-established varieties may be divided 
into six groups : Common, Game, Rose-Combed, Polish, Asiatic, 
and Japanese. 

Common bantams are usually the offspring of unions of ordi- 
nary Game Bantam males with small mongrel hens. They nearly 
always show something of the Game style, 
with various colors. A 
family so produced may 
continue for some gen- 
erations, bred for small 
size, with little attention 
to color, or a color type 
may be fixed without try- 
ing to conform to any 
popular standard. Thou- 
sands of such families 
appear and disappear. 

Game Bantams are principally of two kinds. One, which may be 
called the common Game Bantam, is a miniature of the Pit Game. 
This is the most common of the established varieties, the black-red 
type being most abundant. The Exhibition Game Bantam, modeled 
after the large Exhibition Game, is a great favorite with fanciers 

1 Photograph from owner, Dr. J. N. MacRae, Gait, Ontario. 

FIG. 454. White Co- 
chin Bantam pullet 

FIG. 455. White Cochin 
Bantam cock 



FIG. 456. Buff Cochin 
Bantam cockerel 1 

and a much more attractive bird than the large type, inasmuch 
as the proportions which in a large bird give the impression of 
absurd extension of extremities produce much less of that effect 
in a bird too small to contain, in any part, a suggestion of utility. 

There are also bantam sizes of the Malay 
and of the Indian Game. 

Rose-Combed Bantams are of two 
kinds, the Hamburg type, to which 
the description "rose-combed" has been 
given as a name, and the Sebrights, 
which take their name from Sir John 
Sebright, the originator of the type. The 
Hamburg type is bred in two colors, 
black and white. The blacks, with their 
glossy plumage, red rose combs, white 
ear lobes, and dainty, stylish forms are 
by many considered the most beautiful of bantams. Sebright Ban- 
tams have plumage laced like that of the Silver and Golden Polish, 
with which the two varieties correspond in color. A peculiarity of 
the breed is that the males are hen-feathered, that is, lack the 
flowing hackle, the well-developed tail, and 
the fine back and saddle feathers which nor- 
mally distinguish the plumage of the cock. 
Polish Bantams need no other description. 
Asiatic Bantams present dwarf forms of all 
the breeds classed as "Asiatics,"- Cochins, 
Brahmas, and Langshans. The Cochin Ban- 
tams, first called Pekin Bantams, came orig- 
inally from China. The others were made in 
England and America. 

Japanese Bantams are of a very different 
type from those originating on the continent 
of Asia. They have very short legs, large combs, wings, and tails, 
and a very erect carriage, bringing the head and tail together. 
They are bred in various colors, but only the black, white, and 
black -tailed white are recognized in the Standard of Perfection. 

1 Photograph from owner, Sidney Wells, Newark, Ohio. 

2 Owned by Louis T. C. Loring, Shrewsbury, Mass. Photograph by Graham. 

FIG. 457. Light Brahma 
Bantam pullet 2 



Of these four kinds of poultry, including all the gallinaceous 
domestic birds other than fowls, only the turkey requires special 
consideration in this connection. No standards for the others have 
been formulated, though there are varieties in all, and in a general 
way breeders mate for the preservation of variety characters. This 
chapter describes turkeys in detail. Notes on the others are ap- 
pended to it as the most appropriate place for their insertion. 

Turkeys. At the discovery of America the turkey, previously 
unknown to Europeans, was found in Mexico and Peru, both in the 
wild state and in domestication. The most authentic accounts place 
its arrival in Spain, England, and France at about 1624. Before 
the end of that century it was well distributed throughout Europe. 
Wild turkeys are still found in mountainous and wooded territory 
in the South and as far north as Pennsylvania. Modern European 
stocks appear to have been derived mostly from early importations ; 
American stocks usually come from wild stock brought into domesti- 
cation. While records are scant, it seems quite plain that, from the 
time of the settlement of the country, the stocks of turkeys in sec- 
tions where wild turkeys were found have had frequent accessions of 
wild blood, keeping them nearer the wild color and type ; and that 
when the wild turkey disappeared from a locality, the domestic stock 
usually became mongrelized, but occasionally was developed as a 
variety with distinctive color and sometimes with modifications of 
form. There are not, however, such variations of size and of super- 
ficial shape characters in turkeys as are found in the races of domes- 
tic fowls, or even in ducks and geese. Of differences which might be 
made the basis of breed distinctions there are none ; color variations 
are few, and no attempt has been made to manipulate color patterns 
farther than by selection and improvement of the original. Racial 
differences are of slight importance, and turkeys are commonly 
considered as of one breed with a number of color varieties. 



The Wild Turkey as frequently seen alive on farms and in poul- 
try exhibitions, and dead with the feathers on in the market, is about 
the size of the average mongrel turkey found on farms, but more 
compactly built, higher stationed, and closer feathered, appearing 
slimmer, though generally heavier than domestic birds of the same 

FIG. -4-58! Bronze Turkey cock. (Photograph by E. J, Hall) 

- \f- 

apparent size. In color it is a black-bronze. The skin of the 
comb, head, and wattle is a darker, more purplish red than in 
the domestic stock. 

The Bronze Turkey is the wild turkey, of the type just described, 
as it develops in domestication, under highly favorable conditions 
of life, with selection for the improvement and greater brilliancy 
of the original color and markings. The type seems to have existed, 
pure in some specimens but in general more or less mixed with 
stocks longer under domestication (and often degenerated), for 
two centuries or more, but not until the modern period in poultry 


culture did it attract special attention. Since then it has become the 
leading variety, being extensively kept as a pure race and also every- 
where used to grade up inferior stocks. Crosses with wild stock 
are made at intervals by many breeders of Bronze Turkeys. In 
color the male and female are alike, except that the color tone of 

FIG. 459. Bronze Turkey hen. (Photograph by E. J. Hall) 

the female is more sober. The soft feathers are dull black or bronze, 
the wide, nearly straight tips crossed with a wide black band, next 
to which, at the tip, is a narrower band of white. The different 
widths of these bands and of the bronze tints in different sections 
give varying color effects. The long feathers of the wings and tail 
are barred black, or brown, and white ; the tips of the tail feathers 
are banded like the body plumage. 

The Narragansett Turkey is probably most correctly described 
as a race produced by improvement of stock somewhat degenerated 
in domestication. It originated and has been bred chiefly in Rhode 


Island and Connecticut, taking its name from Narragansett Bay. 
In this variety the bronze and brown tints are largely eliminated 
from the soft feathers, but combine with the black in the stiff 
feathers of the wings and tail, while the colors of the bands at 
the tips of the feathers are reversed, the wide bands being white 
and the narrow one at the tip, black. The general effect is gray. 

FIG. 460. Narragansett Turkey cock 

The Black Turkey. This variety, though found occasionally in 
America, has been developed principally in Europe. In Spain black 
is said to be the predominant color. The black turkeys of Nor- 
mandy still have an excellent reputation. In England the finest 
specimens of the type were long grown in Norfolk, and in America 
black turkeys are still sometimes called Norfolk Turkeys, but the 
English race is said to be nearly extinct. Black color probably 


occurs often in wild turkeys and, mingling with the bronze, is doubt- 
less a most potent agent in keeping the color darker than that of 
the domestic bronze selected for lighter, more brilliant color. 

The White Turkey. When both white and black varieties of a 
bird are found, it is usual to consider the white a sport from the 
black. While such 
sports may occur, the 
history of white vari- 
eties of fowls shows 
that they are largely 
made up of white 
mongrels which ap- 
proach the desired 
type. The white birds 
derived directly from 

mixed colors of the 


same race seem to 

have come usually 
from the lightest-col- 
ored specimens of the 
parent stock. Hence, 
in the case of the 
white turkey it is 
more reasonable ,to 
suppose that the 
white turkeys were 
derived by selection 
from the same general 
stock as the blacks, 
than to assume that 
they came from the 
latter as sports, especially as no cases of sporting are recorded. 
The name " White Holland " has been given to the white vari- 
ety of turkey because the color was common in Holland, but it may 
safely be asserted that the greater part of the white turkeys in 
America have been derived by selection from flocks in which gray 
in various shades was the prevailing color. In nearly all such 
flocks white specimens occasionally appear. 

FIG. 461. White Turkey cock. (Photograph by 


The Slate Turkey corresponds in color to the blue races of fowls 
and unquestionably comes from a cross of black and white. The 
color is rare, and it is doubtful whether it should be considered a 
variety in the proper sense of the term. A few flocks are bred for 
preservation of this type, but its scarcity and the suddenness of 
appearances of small exhibits in the shows indicates that most of 
the stock is cross bred from black and white. 

FIG. 462. Bronze Turkey hen. (Photograph from Rhode Island Agricultural 
Experiment Station) 

The Buff or Red Turkeys are produced by the elimination of 
black in the wild or the bronze turkey, the red shades remaining and 
by selection being made more intense and distributed more widely. 
Buff birds, as well as gray and buff mixed, appear frequently in 
mongrel flocks. The red turkeys produced at different times in 
different places in this country probably came from crosses of such 
buff turkeys with the bronze, and from personal or local selection of 
the type. In none of the so-called buff turkeys is the color as uniform 


FIG. 463. Bronze Turkey cock : one of the mammoths. (Photograph by E.J. Hall) 

as in yellow mongrel fowls. The tail and wings are mostly white, 
and the buff in other sections patchy and uneven. The variety 
known as the Bourbon Red Turkey is supposed to have come 
from a cross of Bronze on mongrel buff stock. 



NOTE. The Bronze Turkey is everywhere recognized as altogether the best 
existing type. Considering its properties collectively, it may well be doubted 
whether the type can be improved upon. It is a rugged race, growing sometimes 
to great size but on the average not up to the standards for exhibition weights 
for other varieties. 






















Buff, Slate, and Black . . 

27 . 









The Bronze, to carry its greater weight, is a heavier-boned turkey than the 
others. In the largest specimens (usually old males) the meat is likely to be 
coarse-fibered ; in ordinary comparisons of average birds no difference in this 
quality is noted. For table form, without regard to size, the favorite type of 
the Narragansett is the finest American type of turkey, closely resembling in 
shape the Cambridge Bronze of England. The shape of the Narragansett is 
as obviously due to selection for abundance of breast meat as the vigor and 
size of the Bronze are to vigorous wild blood and to favorable conditions in 

domestication. These are prac- 
tically the only variety differ- 
ences, other than color, found 
in turkeys. 

Peafowls. Peafowls are 
supposed to be natives of 
Java and Ceylon. They 
have been domesticated in 
Asia and Europe since very 
early times. The most fa- 
miliar variety is that known 
as the common peafowl, 
about as large as a medium-sized turkey, the adult male having 
gorgeous, iridescent blue-green plumage, the female, grayish 
brown. A white variety is also frequently seen. These are the only 
kinds requiring special mention, although several other varieties 

FIG. 464. White Guinea hen with brood 


are found in exhibitions. The male does not get his full adult 
plumage until the third year. 

Guineas. Guinea fowls are natives of Africa. They are supposed 
to have been brought to America by the Spaniards very soon after 
the discovery of the New World. The familiar varieties are the 
common gray, or Pearl Guinea, which has bluish-gray plumage with 
white spots, and the White Guinea. Cross-bred birds from these 

FIG. 465. Pearl Guinea Fowl at Brook View Farm, Newbury, Massachusetts 

two varieties sometimes show part white and part gray with white 
spots. There is said to be also a white variety with dark spots. 

Pheasants. The most familiar variety of pheasant is the Ring- 
neck, so called from a white ring about the neck of birds of the 
variety as they originally came from China. In England the stock 
has been crossed with other varieties, and in what are known as 
English Ringnecks and English Pheasants the ring is usually 
absent and there are other differences due to crossing with other 
varieties. These are all comparatively plain birds. There are many 
other varieties, some of which are of strikingly beautiful plumage. 



Considered with reference to sources from which stock was ob- 
tained, the races of domestic ducks bred for economic purposes are 
of three distinct types. Taking them as they are, we find but two 
types. To one of these belong all economic races of European 

and of Asiatic 
derivation ; to 
the other, the 
Muscovy Duck 
(a native of 
South Amer- 
ica), which, like 
the turkey, was 
given a name 
that suggested 
eastern Europe 
as the place 
of origin. The 
more common 
types of orna- 
mental ducks are plainly of the same origin as the large races. They 
are dwarfed types, or "bantam ducks." The rarer and more bril- 
liantly colored kinds often seen in aviaries are mostly captive wild 
birds, though some, as the Mandarin, are said to be domesticated 
in the countries from which they came. 

The common wild duck. The Mallard, or common wild duck, 
is generally accepted as the ancestor of all economic races of ducks, 
with the exception of the Muscovy. Wild specimens are still fre- 
quently captured and brought into domestication, and after several 
generations become so much increased in size that they will pass 
readily for small specimens of the Rouen Duck, which the Mallard 
closely resembles in color. 


FIG. 466. Domesticated Mallard Ducks. Brook View Farm, 
Newbury, Massachusetts 



Common domestic ducks. Our common ducks, sometimes called 
" puddle ducks," are a type analogous to the common fowls previous 
to the introduction of improved stocks. It is rarely possible to de- 
termine satisfactorily whether any particular stock of ducks of this 
type now seen is of the mongrel stock which has been distributed 
throughout Europe from very early times or whether it has degen- 
erated from stock improved within the last fifty or sixty years. 
Twenty-five or 
thirty years 
ago most of 
the common 
ducks were un- 
doubtedly free 
from the influ- 
ence of im- 
proved stocks. 
These ducks 
were of various 
colors, about 
half the size of 
the Pekin and 
Rouen, slow of 
growth, gener- 
ally inferior as 
layers, and of 
but little com- 
mercial impor- 
tance. So far as known, no effort was made to improve them in 
America ; in Europe a number of breeds were developed. 

Improved races of ducks. Improved stocks of ducks are of 
three general types, the meat type, the laying type, and the 
ornamental type. 

Meat types. As most numerous, of most importance, and also 
best showing the evolution of types, the table types of ducks are 
considered first. The races of this type are the Rouen, Aylesbury, 
Cayuga> Blue Swedish, Blue Termonde, Pekin, and Muscovy. 

The Rouen Duck. The Rouen Duck bears much the same rela- 
tion to the wild Mallard as the Dorking and Houdan fowls to the 

FIG. 467. Rouen Ducks. Brook View Farm, Newbury, 



initial type of fowl. While it is entirely possible that this variety 
has been developed direct from the Mallard, it is much more prob- 
able that it was developed, by long-continued selection for table 
qualities, from common ducks of the same color, just as the fowls of 
the European meat type were developed from mongrel fowls. The 
type was developed especially in the north of France, and takes its 
name from the city of Rouen. 1 The body color of the male is gray ; 
the back is quite dark, with a greenish coat, or sheen, becoming 

darker green 
near the tail ; 
the under parts 
are very much 
lighter, the un- 
der sides of 
the wings and 
some of the 
feathers under 
the wings be- 
ing white; the 
breast is claret- 
colored ; the 
head and the 
upper part of 
the neck are 
green, a white 
ring separat- 
ing the green 

from the body and breast colors, which extend to the lower part of 
the neck ; the tail and wings show mixed gray and brown, with 
some green ; the wing when folded shows a rich blue-green bar 
(called the " ribbon ") with narrow white bars on either side. The 
female has penciled brown plumage, the general color tone of which 
is strikingly like that of the females in black-red types of fowls, and 
has the same blue-green and white bars seen on the male. A variety 

1 This is the view of most of the earlier writers, and considering the nearness 
of that town to Paris, the great poultry market, and the custom of giving names 
of towns or districts to poultry for which they became celebrated, there seems 
no good reason for the efforts of later writers to make the name a corruption of 
"Rhone" or "roan." 

FIG. 468. Cayuga Ducks. (Photograph by E. J. Hall) 



of the Rouen, known as the Duclair- Rouen, resembling it in color 
but having a white neck and breast, is regarded as of the same 
original stock, unimproved by fancier's selection and not crossed 
with the Mallard, which was used in the Rouen to give brilliancy 
of color. The bill of the Rouen is greenish in the male and 
brown in the female ; the legs and feet are orange with a green 
or brown shade. 

The Aylesbury Duck. The Aylesbury Duck takes its name from 
the vale of Aylesbury in England. The white ducks of that district 

FIG. 469. Blue Swedish Ducks. (Photograph from owner, Sunswick Farm, 
Plainfield, New Jersey) 

were long celebrated for their quality, and in time the name came 
to be applied generally, in England, to large white ducks. No 
definite accounts of their origin are given. The natural inference 
is that this breed was composed of white individuals from various 
sources. Such a race might have been made by improvement and 
selection without recourse to crosses with other improved races, 
but it is believed that both the Rouen and Pekin have been crossed 
with the Aylesbury to restore vitality lost through indifferent breed- 
ing. The plumage is white throughout, the bill flesh-colored, the 
legs and feet pale orange. 



FIG. 470. Pekin drake. White Birch Poultry 
Farm, Bridgewater, Massachusetts 

FIG. 471. Pekin duck. White Birch Poultry 
Farm, Bridgewater, Massachusetts 

The Merchtem Duck. A 

white Belgian type closely 
resembling the Aylesbury 
is called the Merchtem 
Duck. The Belgian bird 
is a little smaller and has 
blue legs and a dark bean 
on the bill. 

The Cayuga Duck. The 
Cayuga Duck is a large 
black duck taking its name 
from Cayuga County in 
New York, where it appears 
to have been developed as 
a local variety about 1850, 
though it attracted no at- 
tention beyond that vicinity 
until ten or fifteen years 
later. Stories of its origin 
attributing the black color 
to the Black East Indian 
Duck (also to a black duck 
from Brazil known as the 
Buenos Airean) may be re- 
garded as of very doubtful 
authenticity, except per- 
haps as to certain stocks. 
Black ducks are frequently 
found in all races where the 
colors are various. The 
color is one which would 
naturally occur in the varia- 
tions of the color of the com- 
mon wild duck in domesti- 
cation. There is no warrant 
for considering this variety 
as essentially different from 
other improved races. 



The Blue Swedish Duck. In England and America the name 
11 Blue Swedish " is given to blue or slate ducks developed as a color 
variety. It is said that the color has long been popular in parts of 
Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany, and that it has been frequently 
seen in the flocks of Belgium. It occurs occasionally in all stocks 
of various colors, but not with the depth and uniformity of shade 
and the peculiar white bib on the neck and the two white flight 
feathers which have been made standard markings in this variety. 

FIG. 472. Colored Muscovy Ducks. (Photograph by E. J. Hall) 

The Blue Termonde Duck. The Blue Termonde' is a race recently 
developed as an established type 'in Belgium. It is a very large 
duck, similar in color and evidently near kin to the Blue Swedish, 
but with the white throat an irregular feature. 

The Pekin Duck. Brought to England from Pekin, China, in 
1874, and to America in the next year, the Pekin Duck had an 
even more marked influence on duck culture in this country than 
the Asiatic type of fowl had on the improvement of fowls. Like 
the Asiatic fowls, the Pekin Duck was of large size and extremely 
hardy. It is the common duck of China. Its origin is probably 



similar to that of the early European races, ancestral lines meeting 
not in any domesticated stock but remotely somewhere in the evolu- 
tion of the wild duck. As nothing is known of other varieties of 
ducks in China, the Pekin is here usually considered a white breed. 
The history of other races indicates that it is probably the white 
variety of a race which, when first domesticated, broke up into various 
colors. From the extent to which it has displaced other races in 
America and some parts of Europe, it is easy to suppose that if 
in China there early arose a popular preference for white ducks, 
this color long ago became dominant or exclusive. 

FIG. 473. White Muscovy Ducks. (Photograph from owner, Brook View Farm, 
Newbury, Massachusetts) 

The Muscovy Duck. The Muscovy Duck is a native of South 
America, introduced to Europeans, as is supposed, sometime in the 
seventeenth century. The name is a corruption of " musk duck." 
This duck is in several respects very different from the common 
wild duck and the races derived from it, and is sometimes described 
as a distinct species. Many authorities have declared that when 
crossed with other ducks the offspring are sterile. It seems, how- 
ever, to be well-established that the bybirds will breed freely with 
either parent race, if not so readily among themselves. The most 
conspicuous peculiarity of this race is that the head and face are 
partly bare, as in the normal fowl, the skin being a brilliant red, 
roughly carunculated and having a protuberance above the beak 



corresponding to the comb in fowls. There is a tuft of feathers on 
the head which can be raised or depressed at will. 1 Another con- 
spicuous feature is the difference in the size of the sexes, the males 
being commonly much larger than the females. The Muscovy 
Duck has greater power of flight than other domestic ducks, and 
frequently perches on branches or elevated places. The color of 
the wild race is black with some white on the head. In domes- 
tication black, black and white, blue, and white are found. The 
American Standard varieties are. the colored (black and white) and 
the white. 



Adult drake 

Young drake 

Adult duck 

Young duck 





















Blue Swedish 






NOTE. The improved races of ducks are all rapid growers, and of large size 
compared with the common duck. For special duck plants the Pekin is the 
only duck now considered in America. Its color, hardiness, fecundity, and 
docile disposition make it far superior to any of the others for the conditions 
of production on a large scale and for the requirements of the market. Prior 
to the advent of the Pekin, the White Muscovy and the Aylesbury Duck were 
used by growers producing for the New York market. The Aylesbury in this 
country has never been a favorite. At different times, duck growers have 
tried the experiment of crossing the Aylesbury and Pekin, but have invaria- 
bly discarded the results, considering the produce inferior to the Pekin. In 
England the modern Aylesbury has some Pekin blood, but how much it 
is impossible to say. Aylesbury breeders declare that there is very little. 
Others assert that the modern Aylesbury is practically nothing else than a 

1 This is true as to the feathers on the heads of fowls, ducks, and geese, but 
wlien there are only a few very small, short feathers on the head, they simply 
appear rough when elevated. I have frequently observed Pekin Ducks with the 
feathers on the head elevated so that it appeared deformed. In some the action, 
or attitude, was so constant that it was practically a deformity ; in others it was 
only occasional. 



Pekin with white skin and pale bill. The experience of American breeders with 
Aylesbury crosses cannot be taken as conclusively showing racial differences, 
for similar results might have followed the importation of Pekins of European 
stock. It is generally admitted that the Pekin Duck has reached its highest 
development in this country. 1 Of other races of this class the Rouen ranks 
first, and is considered by many actually much superior in meat quality to the 
Pekin, especially when full grown. At that stage it is said to dress more easily 
than the white duck. The black (Cayuga) and blue (Swedish) ducks have their 
admirers, but make little progress in popular favor. The breeding of races of 
this class other than the Pekin is largely in the hands of fanciers. The shape 

of all these ducks (except the Muscovy) 
is much the same (the body long, broad, 
and deep, the breast full and promi- 
nent, the keel well developed), espe- 
cially in old birds. 

In the Muscovy there is greater 
breadth, with less depth of body and 
little keel. The chief shape difference 
in ducks of this general type is the 
carriage of the body, and this differ- 
ence, it should be observed, is artificial, 
the typical carriage being designated 
largely for the purpose of maintaining 
a semblance of breed difference in 
varieties which in practical breeding 
tend to become alike. The carriage 
of body in American Standard exhi- 
bition ducks of this type is Rouen, 
Aylesbury, Cayuga, Muscovy, and Blue 

FIG. 474. Indian Runner drake (old), 

White Birch Poultry Farm, Bridgewater, 


Swedish, nearly horizontal ; Pekin, a 
little elevated in front. The elevated 
carriage of the Pekin is more charac- 
teristic of the male than of the female, 

and tends to disappear with increase of weight. The typical carriage as shown in 
model illustrations is usually the extreme pose of the bird in an attitude which 
emphasizes the desired feature. In every point of shape (including size), varia- 
tions in individuals and stocks are constantly found to be much greater than the 
differences between representatives of the breed type. As layers the Pekins are 
rated much superior to other large races, the Muscovy at the foot of the list. 

1 In 1907 Mr. S. Sato, of Tokyo, Japan, visited this country to investigate 
methods of poultry culture and to buy poultry among other kinds, Pekin Ducks. 
I learned from him at that time that the white ducks of China were so much inferior 
to the American Pekins that they were not considered desirable to improve the 
stock in Japan. According to Mr. Sato, not only this race of ducks but all Chinese 
fowls came to Japan by way of America. 



Laying-type ducks. The egg-type duck is a type developed in 
Belgium, Holland, and northern France as a common, very hardy 
duck ; it makes rapid growth, especially the first five or six weeks, 
and is meaty, though small in comparison with those just described ; 
it is an early layer and very prolific. On the continent these ducks 
are of all colors. There seems little doubt that they have furnished 
the foundation stock for the Blue Swedish, the Buff, and the Indian 
Runner ducks. They still afford material for new varieties. 

The Indian Runner Duck. In 
England and America the In- 
dian Runner Duck was intro- 
duced to the public as a native 
of India, but .in view of the 
positive testimony 1 on that point 
it can hardly be doubted that it 
is simply an improved color 
type of the ducks from that part 
of the Continent directly oppo- 
site the south of England. The 
peculiar erect carriage is like 
that of the closely allied domes- 
tic Penguin duck. Those who 
attribute this character to a wild 
ancestral race are evidently not 
aware that the " wild penguin 
duck " of early poultry writers 
and some naturalists was a 

fiction. In England the continental stock was sometimes crossed 
with common English ducks. American Standard weights for this 
variety are drake, 4^- pounds ; duck, 4 pounds. The body is long 
and narrow, the breast well developed. The standard color is fawn 
(preferred) or gray and white, in a peculiar pattern, the dark color 
occurring in patches on the crown and cheeks, and on the back, 
breast, and fore part of the body like a jacket. As layers they surpass 

1 M. Louis Vander Snickt, of Belgium, in Chasse et Peche, in 1900, stated very 
emphatically that the Indian Runner Duck was identical with the ducks of the 
same type common in the Netherlands. Against such authority, stories of im- 
portations from India (coupled with the information that in their alleged native 
land the race is very rare) carry little weight. 

FIG. 475. Indian Runner drake and duck 
(young). (Photograph from owner, Clay- 
ton I. Bullard, White Pine, Tennessee) 


all other ducks known in America, though the average is far below 
the large yields which are frequently reported (two hundred eggs 
or more per bird per year). They are used to some extent for 
broiler ducks, dressing very plump and meaty at from 2\ to 3 
pounds each at six weeks of age. 

Common ornamental ducks. Ornamental ducks include the 
Crested White Duck and three varieties of small ducks which are 
all of the same type, though classed in the Standard of Perfection 
as two breeds, of which one has two varieties. 

The Crested White Duck. As usually found, the Crested White 
Duck is a medium-sized duck, though the American Standard 
weights make it the same weight as the Pekin. They are bred 
only as curiosities. Although white is the only color recognized as 
standard, other colors occur. The type seems to have been de- 
veloped in common European ducks centuries ago. 

Call Ducks. Gray and White Call Ducks and Black East India 
Ducks are of substantially the same size and type. The Gray Call 
Duck closely resembles the wild Mallard, and the coloration fixed 
by fanciers is the same as that of the Rouen. The White Call 
Duck is of the same derivation, and though given another breed 
name, the Black East India Duck is plainly of the same stock. 



Domestic geese in America are mostly of European derivation, 
but there are also races from Asia, and the American wild goose 
is quite extensively bred in confinement in some districts, and in 
such places is largely used to cross with domesticated races. Euro- 
pean and Asiatic types are supposed to be from different wild types, 
but from the fact that they interbreed freely it is assumed that these 
must have been varieties of the same species. While some races 
of geese are quite regularly better layers than others, and occasion- 
ally an individual gives large egg production, laying qualities have 
not been sufficiently developed in any race to justify its description 
as a laying type. Geese are kept in domestication usually for their 
flesh, but occasionally for ornament. The most appropriate classi- 
fication, therefore, is to make two divisions, economic and ornamental. 

Economic races of geese. The most important races of geese 
are the European races. The influence of other blood on stocks in 
the country at large is practically negligible. Our common geese 
came with the early settlers from Europe. Our popular improved- 
races are bred as received in later days from the parts of Europe 
where they were developed. 

The common geese. The greater part of our stocks of geese 
apparently still retain the type and characteristics of the geese com- 
mon in Europe since long before the beginnings of history. The 
graylag goose is the wild variety from which it is supposed that 
the common domestic stock is derived. Except where selection for 
white has been made, gray and mixed gray and white are the pre- 
vailing colors. While inferior in size to the largest improved races, 
the common geese are large enough, when bred and grown well, 
to answer ordinary market requirements, and are extremely hardy. 

The Roman Goose. The Roman Goose is supposed to be the old- 
est of the improved varieties. Although the Italians gave little atten- 
tion to color in fowls, it appears that from very early times white was 



a preferred color, and is to-day the prevailing color of geese in those 
parts of Italy where geese are grown. A black- and- white or gray 
variety is also found in parts of Italy. Roman Geese are said to 
be precocious and prolific layers, from sixty to one hundred ten 
eggs from October to June being given as the recorded production 

FIG. 476. Emden Geese 

of individuals. In size and general appearance they closely resem- 
ble our common geese. As a variety they are little known outside 
of Italy, but some authorities believe that the race has been an 
important factor in the development of common stocks throughout 
southern Europe. 

The Pomeranian Goose. The Pomeranian Goose (also called the 
Saddleback Goose) is a common variety, apparently an improvement 



of ordinary stock, found throughout Germany and southeastern 
Europe. In size it is intermediate between our common geese 
and the heavier improved European varieties. The color of the 
goose is usually white ; of the gander, white with gray head, neck, 
back, and wings. While not known (under this name) in Amer- 
ica, the variety is of special interest as the probable progenitor of 

FIG. 477. Toulouse Geese 

both the Emden and the Toulouse. As the goose has been more 
of a favorite in communities settled by German-speaking races 
than elsewhere in the United States, it is entirely probable that 
some of this stock has from time to time been brought here and 
merged with our common stock. 

The Emden Goose. The first of highly improved European 
stocks of geese to reach America was an Emden. The importation 



by James Sisson of Rhode Island in 1826 is better authenti- 
cated than the claim that a Colonel Jaques of Massachusetts had 
imported some in 1821, though that claim may be correct. It is 
even quite possible, as the account of the introduction of Asiatic 
fowls shows, that occasional importations were made earlier. At 
first the Emdens were generally called here Bremen geese, Bremen 
being the port from which the first importation on record came. 
In England they were called Emden, importations to that country 
coming, as is supposed, from the port of Emden. The Emden 
Goose is described sufficiently for identification anywhere as a large 
white goose. The size is easily developed from the Pomeranian 

FIG. 478. Captive Wild Geese used as decoys at shooting stand of C. M. Bryant, 
East Weymouth, Massachusetts. (Photograph from C. M. Bryant) 

by selection or by crossing. According to the descriptions of early 
Emden geese in this country, those first imported were not invariably 
white, but often showed some gray. 

The Toulouse Goose. The Toulouse Goose takes its name from 
the city of Toulouse, the capital of a department in southern France 
noted for its geese. It was brought to England probably about 
1835-1845, and to this country from England many years later. 
It is not mentioned by Cocke (1843), and references to it in the 
decade following 1850 plainly show that the writers were depend- 
ent on English authors for their descriptions. It is probable that 
the variety became known here either in the latter part of that dec- 
ade or early in the following decade. Like the Emden, it is suffi- 
ciently described for identification by a general description of size 



and color. A very large, massive gray goose can hardly fail to be 
a Toulouse, or a grade bird not distinguishable from the pure or 
standard-bred type of the breed. 

Asiatic types of geese. The Asiatic types of geese include three 
varieties, two of which are classed as China Geese, and the third as 

FIG. 479. White China Geese. (Photograph from owner, Charles McClave, 
New London, Ohio) 

the African Goose. References to these by early American writers 
leave no doubt that the type was quite well known through scattered 
specimens before 1840. It is quite reasonable to suppose that from 
an early period in the trade with the Orient, Asiatic races of geese, 
like the Chinese fowls, were brought in at intervals by vessels trad- 
ing with China. The striking peculiarity of this type is the knob, 
or protuberance, developed on the head at the juncture with the 




upper mandible. The shape is also different from that of the Euro- 
pean races. In profile the body has a more oblong appearance ; 
the carriage is more erect ; the neck is long and slender, making, 
in the smaller varieties, a more graceful type. In color, too, there 
is a characteristic difference, the colored variety having a distinctly 
brown shade not found in domestic races of European ancestry. 
Notwithstanding these differences the Asiatic and European races 
interbreed freely and produce fertile offspring. A possible link con- 
necting two types is found in the Russian geese, in which nobby 
protuberances develop on the heads of old birds, and which some- 
times show, in their clay color, traces of the brown shade of the 
dark Asiatics. 

The China Goose. 1 There are two Standard varieties of the 
China Goose, the Brown and the White. A general description 
of shape has been given above. The size is about the same as that 
of the common goose. In color the Brown China is a brownish 
gray, darkest on the head and back ; the White China is pure white. 
The African Goose. As now known, the African Goose is in 
appearance a large Brown China, with the brown shade eliminated 
(in Standard exhibition specimens) from the plumage. Of the ori- 
gin of this variety nothing definite is known. The confusion of 
names and the lack of definiteness in descriptions of early writers 
make it impossible, in many cases, to determine whether the geese 
they describe as "Chinese" and "African" are the same as the 
geese now known by those names. Early descriptions of the African 
Goose, however, attribute to it brown color (like the Brown China) 
and great size (unlike the Brown China), making it quite plain that 
the present distinction in color is one of the common tricks of breed 
making. The type is one not found in Africa, and considering 
the Chinese custom of developing size in practical poultry, it is 
much more reasonable to suppose that the China Goose in Amer- 
ica is a refined, and the African Goose an enlarged, development 
of an intermediate size. Whether either type is of purely Asiatic 
blood may well be doubted. In the flocks of the African Goose 
usually seen, indications of mixtures with Toulouse or common 

1 The China Geese are sometimes classed as ornamental, but though not pop- 
ular, their undoubted adaptability to economic uses makes it proper to recognize 
them in this class. 



stock are often evident. The relation to the Brown China, too, is 
often manifest. No doubt continuous and somewhat irregular cross- 
ing has had much to do with these appearances, but it would be 
quite absurd to suppose that only recent crosses have influenced 
the development of these varieties. 

The American Wild Goose. While not, strictly speaking, a do- 
mestic race, the Wild Goose, also called Canadian Goose, is a factor 
of some importance in commercial goose culture. Along the North 
Atlantic coast considerable numbers are bred in captivity, the 
young being sold to hunters of wild geese for decoys. Where so 
bred they are largely used for crossing with domesticated races. 
The progeny of the cross is sterile, showing that this is a different 
species. The weight is about the same as the common goose, though 
the wild bird, because of its more compact form and shorter plum- 
age, appears smaller. The color of the body is gray, the head and 
neck black, the cheeks having white marks ; some brown color 
appears in the flight feathers of the wings. 



Adult Gander 

Young Gander 

Adult Goose 

Young Goose 






China . . ..... . 





African . . 




I A 










I c 

These are ordinary, average weights. A considerable proportion of stock of 
the heavier varieties is below the Standard weight for exhibition specimens, 
but many specimens are above these weights. Emden and Toulouse geese 
5 pounds above Standard weights are not rare in America. In England 
these varieties are grown still larger, Emdens weighing 30 pounds for males 
and 28 pounds for females ; Toulouse, 28 pounds for males and 26 for females. 
As a rule, only the Emden and Toulouse varieties are approved by goose 
growers wishing to breed a large variety pure. Both are used extensively for 
grading up common stock. As they run in America, where the Toulouse is 
far more popular, the Toulouse is larger than the Emden and many of the latter 
are poor layers. The African is also used to some extent for grading, but the 
difference in type makes it less desirable. On the other hand, the cross of the 



Wild Goose and the African produces a mongrel of more attractive appearance 
than the cross of the Wild Goose on European varieties. The Toulouse is a 
nonsitter ; the other varieties are all sitters. As layers the Chinese Geese are 
rated highest, producing usually from forty to fifty eggs a season. The Tou- 
louse come next, then the Africans, with the Emdens last. 

Ornamental geese. Only two varieties of ornamental geese are 
seen in America, and those rarely. The Sebastopol Goose, also 
called Danubian, is a white goose about the size of the common 
goose (usually a little smaller), with red bill and legs and long, 
slender, slightly curling feathers on the back and wings. Tne 
Egyptian Goose is a small goose said to be found throughout the 
continent of Africa, probably a distinct species. Though recog- 
nized and described in the Standard of Perfection, specimens are 
seen here only in collections. It is variegated in color, and is 
chiefly interesting to the student of poultry types from the fact 
that, of all the geese with which poultrymen come in contact, it is 
the only kind which shows the variety and brilliancy of color found 
in the natural types of our domestic fowls and ducks. 

Swans. The White Swan is the only familiar variety of its 
species, the Black Swan being rarely seen. Each is presumed to 
be free from other color. The rarity of the birds and their large 
size and ugly disposition when handled make it impracticable to 
apply in their breeding the methods used for common kinds of 
poultry. While ornamental, they are of little interest to the fancier. 



Kinds of reproduction. In the simplest forms of animal life 
reproduction is by self-division, the separating parts being (nor- 
mally) equally developed. As the scale of life ascends and organ- 
isms become larger and more complex, division into equal parts 
becomes detrimental or impossible, and the organism at maturity 
reproduces by a series of divisions, at each of which there is thrown 
off from the parent body a part such as that body itself was at an 
earlier stage of development. Still higher in the scale, with life 
and its functions growing more complex, reproduction takes place 
only when the elementary bodies from two mature bodies unite at 
(or very near) the time of separation from the parent organisms. 
With the evolution of the sexual from the asexual method of re- 
production we are not here concerned. Such facts as the funda- 
mental similarity of the forms of reproduction and the necessity 
of the higher organisms for diverse parentage, which gave rise to 
sex, are elementary in the study of the principles of breeding. 

Likeness in asexual reproduction. In the self -division of 
simple animal forms the maxim of the breeder " Like produces 
like " is, according to our observation, exactly applicable. The or- 
ganism resolves itself into like and equal parts. In forms a little 
higher up, the organism resolves itself into parts unequal in size 
and development, the larger and more adyanced part producing a 
succession of smaller parts without change in itself, then dying, 
the others (such as survive) growing to maturity and producing 
and perishing in the same manner. 

Relations of body and germ. The higher we go in the scale 
of life, and the more complex the structure of the animal becomes, 
the greater the difference, both in size and appearance, between 
the fully developed organism and the part which separates from 
it in reproduction, until in creatures which reproduce sexually the 
germs are (as compared with the body) very minute and of the 



most simple elementary form and structure. The germs of crea- 
tures differing greatly in every character by which we distinguish 
them are so nearly alike in size and appearance that, out of associ- 
ation with or proximity to the parent form, their identification is 
difficult and ordinarily impossible. Virtually, the germ retains its 
primitive form and structure up to the point of separation from 
the body, no matter what may be the development of the body. 
But however little the germ, at separation, may show the char- 
acter of the body from which it came, under proper conditions it 
develops into a body of the same kind, never by any possibility 
into a body of another kind. Like still produces like, but in the 
higher organism the likeness of the part called the germ to the 
part called the body becomes apparent only with development. 

In the simpler organic forms, where self -division results in the 
production of like parts, no Question is raised as to the possession, 
by each of these parts at the time of separation, of every character- 
istic of the other. In the higher animal forms, and particularly in 
domestic animals and birds, differences between a parent organism 
and the germs it has produced, as observed at advanced or mature 
stages of the development of these germs, cause questioning as to 
how far the germ partakes of the character of the body at the time 
of separation from it. That the tiny germ carries in it power to 
develop an individual having the general characteristics of the 
parent form and race is undeniable, the evidence is everywhere. 
How far the germ contains power to reproduce, in the individual 
developing from it, modifications peculiar to the parent form, is 
the disputed question. Reasoning from analogy with the simpler 
animal forms, the presumption is that the germ carries in it power 
to produce (under suitable conditions) an organism identical with 
the parent body at the time of separation. 

However scientists, in their endeavor to demonstrate laws of he- 
redity by exact comparisons of limited numbers in consecutive gener- 
ations, may disagree as to the transmission of acquired characters, 
the whole practice of live-stock breeders is based on the theory that 
from the germ may be developed a creature in every way like the 
parent form at the time of self-division, and results of breeding 
in general demonstrate that the theory is correct. To the practi- 
cal breeder the idea that acquired characters (more correctly, quality 


or grade of character) cannot be transmitted is absurd. On the 
other hand his experience teaches him that they are not regularly 
and uniformly transmitted, even under the most uniform and favor- 
able conditions, and that differences in forms compared at maturity 
are due in part to environment and conditions affecting the creature 
during its independent development, and in part to modifying ten- 
dencies or to factors brought over or inherited from the parent 
organism. The nature of these will appear as the phases of inher- 
itance are presented. 

Beginning of variation. In the simpler forms of animal life, 
variation through the influence of environment is plainly a cause 
of individual differences. Such differences are evidently acquired 
and as evidently transmitted, for, once separated, the parts may 
become in a measure unlike through difference of environment. 
One may die by accident or through lack of nourishment ; another, 
more favorably placed than before, may grow larger than the parent 
organism and in self-division produce creatures superior to what 
it was at the beginning of its independent existence. Between 
such extremes there is a range of possibilities of development, and 
always, as long as the parts are equal at division, we can hardly con- 
ceive of one possessing at its origin a characteristic that the other 
has not. In the higher animal forms, with the germ developing 
during a long period independently of the parent body, it is obvious 
that, since environment may influence growth, there is opportunity 
for much greater modification of the organism during the period 
of development, and that, the more highly developed and specialized 
the organism, and the greater its possibilities of somatic variation, 
the more detrimental to the species it would be to have individual 
variations fully and uniformly transmitted. Every slight variation 
would start development in a new direction and there would be no 
stability in animal forms. 

Sex the natural regulator of variation. As long as an organ- 
ism reproduces independently, by simple self-division or by divi- 
sion and combination of its own elements, its characters will be 
reproduced in its offspring, and its tendencies intensified in each 
succeeding generation developed under favorable conditions. 
While simplicity of structure prevents wide variations, this is no 
detriment and may be an advantage to the species. But as the 



structure becomes more elaborate, with specialized parts, each of 
which has a number of different qualities, the possibilities of 
variation increase, and with the tendency to vary one of its prin- 
cipal inherent characters, variation and specialization unchecked 
might lead to mongrelism and to the destruction of an established 
balance of characters, as it has in many cases in domestication. 
Nature checks variation and extreme specialization by making the 
creature no longer capable of independent propagation, making 
reproduction contingent upon the combination, at the same stage 
of existence, of germs from two different individuals. The orderly 
arrangement of natural processes requires that an individual shall 
always contribute, in reproduction, an elementary germ of the same 
character. Hence nature divides individuals, of each species re- 
quiring this regulation, into two kinds, with differences dependent 
upon or related to the sexual functions. A right appreciation of this 
use of sex is of importance to all breeders of live stock, but more to 
poultry breeders than to others, because in most kinds of poultry 
secondary sexual characters are more marked and made more 
important in breeding, and because in the practical work of the 
poultry breeder the sexes are of more equal value than in horses, 
cattle, sheep, and swine. 

Likeness in sexual reproduction. Observation of numbers of 
offspring of the same parents shows that the parental characters 
do not combine in the same way in all. When a sufficient number 
of cases is considered, it is apparent that any character of either 
parent may appear unchanged, but that in general all characters 
blend, though not always uniformly. This lack of uniformity, 
objectionable to the breeder because he is seeking to secure 
uniformity, often seems to him irregular and eccentric. On the 
contrary, it is regular, due to individual variation and to the impos- 
sibility of offspring being exactly like unlike parents. The likeness 
which the breeder desires is obtained, in individuals of each gener- 
ation, only when the parents are so nearly alike, both in appear- 
ance and in breeding, that the range of variation in inherited 
characters is narrow, and, consequently, differences due to in- 
dividual variation are slight. Briefly stated, The general prob- 
lem of the breeder is to find like ancestors for all (or as many as 
possible] of the individuals of a race produced in each generation. 


This problem is easy if his standard considers few characters, 
becoming increasingly difficult as the number of characters con- 
sidered is increased, and the breeder's ideals of quality in stock 
advance. The problem of the breeder who works to a standard is 
essentially the same, whether that standard be, as yet, imperfectly 
conceived in his own mind, or elaborated, agreed upon, and estab- 
lished by an organization of breeders, whether the variety is as 
yet unformed or has been brought to close conformity with a high 
standard ; but in the first case he may sometimes use parents 
quite unlike (in external appearance) the offspring that he hopes 
to secure by a combination of their differing characters, and in the 
other, if he uses a parent that is markedly unlike the desired type 
in the offspring, it is in the hope of securing either the direct 
inheritance of some quality in it, or a blending of some of its 
characters with those of the stock on which it is bred. The de- 
velopment and condition of such a variety as the Barred Plymouth 
Rock afford illustrations of all kinds of combinations to secure, 
in a variety of poultry, likeness to a desired type. The early strains 
were formed (i) by a number of different crosses of parents quite 
unlike ; (2) by selection of such of those cross-bred offspring as 
most nearly approached that type; (3) in a particular strain, by the 
late introduction of blood of a race radically unlike l those used in 
any of the original crosses, but very like the (supposed) original 
type of fowl ; (4) by a general distribution and mingling of this 
strain with others; and, finally, (5) by the device of a double 
system of mating to provide for each sex of the Exhibition type 
just the kind of parents required to produce it. 

The sexes equal in respect to the transmission. of characters. 
Though consideration of particular cases often indicates differences 
in the influences of the sexes in the transmission of characters, 

1 The Black-Red Game has been much used by breeders of recently made 
varieties to restore vigor and stamina where they have deteriorated through 
neglect of those qualities in the keen pursuit of special features of desired 
types. A favorite theory with many of the older breeders was that the Black- 
Red Game, by reason of its close relation to the original type and through cen- 
turies of careful breeding for shape and stamina, could give to the newer races 
stamina and stability of type which would remain even when the superficial Game 
characters and the color had been bred out. The theory is not altogether fanciful, 
though it may not be demonstrable. 


such differences are individual, irrespective of sex. 1 This becomes 
apparent whenever a sufficient number of cases is considered. 
How the line is drawn between asexual and sexual reproduction 
is not known. From the fact that in asexual reproduction the 
germ carries the possibility of development of every parental 
character, the logical inference is that a germ from any individual 
will always carry possibilities of development of every character 
of that individual. Wide observations of the phenomena of breed- 
ing as exhibited in any race indicate that this inference is cor- 
rect. Many poultry breeders will declare that the female has most 
influence on shape and size, the male on color and superficial char- 
acters. Observation supports the assertion that the female influ- 
ences size (and shape, which is largely dependent on development) 
more than the male, but this influence is exerted after transmission 
through the special relation ^of the female to the embryo, and the 
opinion is based mostly on comparisons of the offspring of different 
females by the same male. As between two females, the one well 
developed and vigorous, the other undersized and lacking vitality, 
the offspring by the same sire will (conditions after the embryonic 
stage being equal) invariably show marked difference in development, 
due first to difference in transmission, but also to difference in nour- 
ishment during the embryonic stage. When characters not so mate- 
rially affected by the vitality of the dam are compared, none can be 
found on which sex has any special influence in transmission. 

Prepotency. Observation of the common phenomena of breed- 
ing shows that individuals vary in capacity to transmit characters. 
Ordinarily, the average of the progeny, even of parents carefully 
selected for quality according to the standard used, is distinctly 
lower than the average of the parents, though in the work of a 
skillful breeder the average quality of the progeny in each genera- 
tion tends steadily higher than the average quality of the preceding 
generation as a whole. But there are frequently found individuals 
with unusual capacity for impressing upon their progeny high quality 

1 This observation, of course, does not directly apply to what is called sex- 
limited inheritance, where the sexes differ regularly as to the form in which 
they inherit a particular character or characters. Yet in the last analysis it 
does apply to such cases, as is seen when a male inherits the male form of a 
character from the maternal line, or the female the female form of a character 
from the male line of ancestry. 


or rare combination of quality in their racial, family, or individual 
characters. This peculiar capacity in reproduction is termed pre- 
potency and individuals possessing it are said to be prepotent. 

As commonly used, the term "prepotency " relates only to capacity 
to transmit desired characters. It is not a character or quality in the 
ordinary sense of those terms. It is more appropriately described as 
a condition of a particular individual in which it reproduces, with 
extraordinary accuracy, its racial type or its particular type, accord- 
ing as the condition affects or is affected by the common laws of 
inheritance. Prepotency is not a definite condition or quality, but 
is always relative to average or ordinary potency. An individual 
which in the early stages of the development of a stock appears 
prepotent might at a later stage rank low in breeding potency. It 
has no marks distinguishing it in the individual ; consequently its 
occurrence seems erratic. Because of the absence of distinguishing 
marks in the individual, the bird which shows externally the highest 
excellence in desired characters is always preferred for breeding, and 
so undoubtedly many prepotent individuals are never given an oppor- 
tunity to show that quality. 1 Because only desirable transmissions 

1 One of the most remarkable cases of prepotency was related to me by Mr. 
H. C. Rollins, of Woodville, Massachusetts, for many years one of the foremost 
breeders of Light Brahmas. In making up his Brahmas one winter, he had one 
cockerel reserved for breeding on his general appearance, but discarded him as 
.not of sufficient merit to be used in a mating from which eggs for hatching were 
to be sold at high prices. When females had been selected to mate with the other 
males, there were some eight or ten left over, birds of general high quality but 
not considered quite good enough for the regular matings. Naturally this surplus 
stock was all put in one house. It was not considered a pen mated for breeding. 
Not having eggs enough from the regular matings to give all he wanted for his own 
hatching after supplying his customers, Mr. Rollins used eggs from this pen and 
found them very fertile. Then, running short of eggs for his orders, he used eggs 
from the same pen to fill some orders for old customers in cases where he knew 
them and thought they would rather take the chances of these eggs than have 
their order returned, and where, if results were not satisfactory, he could adjust 
the matter easily. As his own chickens developed, he found the chicks from the 
mating of discarded birds a remarkably uniform and superior lot, the average being 
above the best of other matings. Reports from customers who had eggs from this 
mating were to the same effect. This case, it should be noted, was in the experi- 
ence of a man who has no superior as a breeder, and in stock bred in line by him 
for over a quarter of a century. That the prepotent quality was in the male bird was 
evident, for the females, while of the same stock, were not all bred alike, nor as 
like in appearance as in regular matings. They were simply the remnants of the 
several lines, of females used in the matings of an extensive breeder. 


are considered in estimating prepotency, and because only a small 
proportion of poultry breeders carefully pedigree their stock on 
the female side (so that the quality of prepotency in the females 
used is not always discovered), the manifestations of breeding capac- 
ity to which that term is applied are undoubtedly but a very small 
part of the possible manifestations of unusual capacity for the 
transmission of characters. 

Prepotency and selection. Ordinary cumulative results of selec- 
tion and prepotency should not be confounded. Ordinarily prog- 
ress in breeding to a type is slow, inch by inch, as it were. Let 
a prepotent individual appear, and its power be discovered, and in 
a single generation a breeder may make more progress through 
this one individual than in a long term of years preceding. Within 
another generation he may have raised the average quality of his 
stock to very near the average of the progeny of the prepotent 
individual. Within a very few years the distribution of this stock 
may have made marked improvement in the general stock of the 
variety. This is most noticeable in the early stages of the develop- 
ment of varieties, when quality of characters is low or mediocre as 
measured by the approved standard, and individual differences are 
most marked. 1 A variety as represented at leading shows (where 
the best specimens always come) may show no special merit or ad- 
vance for years. Then an exhibitor will appear with a remarkable 
string of birds. Immediately his stock is in great demand, and the- 
next year's exhibits will show in the stocks of many breeders sim- 
ilar improvement due* to infusions of the blood of the improved 
stock, or to direct purchases of it. Progress by ordinary selection 
is always slow hardly perceptible in the averages of consecutive 
generations. Progress by the use of prepotent individuals is 
immediately conspicuous. 

Transmission of prepotency. To what extent prepotency is trans- 
mitted it is difficult to determine. Direct investigations of this point 

1 The Barred Plymouth Rock again affords an illustration, and in a leading 
stock of that variety. About twenty years ago, H. B. May, after a visit to the farm 
of A. C. Hawkins, said in conversation with another breeder: " Hawkins's stock 
has been going back ; it is n't as good as it was a few years ago ; but he 's got one 
cock there that can put him up in front again. I don't know whether he knows 
it or not, but I think he does." That cock was Royal Blue. He was both a phe- 
nomenal bird and a phenomenal sire and gave his name to the Hawkins stock. 


have as yet afforded no positive conclusions. The consensus of 
opinion of breeders, based on general observation, is that prepotency 
is transmitted, but it requires very careful analysis of the results 
of breeding the progeny of prepotent individuals to show how far 
such results are unusual in the sense that the results of breeding 
from the prepotent individual were, and how far they should be 
considered normal after the prepotent individual had raised the 
average of its family or race. 

Present and latent characters. " Dominance " and " recessive- 
ness " are terms used to describe the behavior of extreme, or plainly 
distinct, grades of characters in sexual reproduction. While each of 
the two germs which in this form of reproduction unite to form a 
new organism brings to the new organism possibilities of develop- 
ing any character of the body which produced it, it is manifestly 
impossible that the new organism should develop with characters 
in the aggregate equal to the sum of the characters of both parents. 
It must be, as has been stated, a composite, in which the characters 
of the parents blend, and usually blend very irregularly, presenting 
all grades of blending between different forms of a character (as of 
color or comb), or a variety of different combinations of characters. 

Alternate inheritance, reversion, and atavism. If organisms 
reproducing sexually could transmit to their offspring only such 
developments or modifications of characters as could be produced 
direct from characters as developed in them, a character which had 
once disappeared could not reappear, except as it might come from 
some new combination. But it is found in practice that characters 
disappearing in one generation often reappear in the next or, less 
numerously, in later generations. The most familiar illustration of 
such reappearance in characters of poultry is the perpetually recur- 
ring single comb in rose-combed varieties. Similar " faults " occur 
frequently in other characters in all varieties of poultry, cropping 
out sometimes most unexpectedly in stock in which they have been 
scrupulously avoided by the breeder for many generations when 
making up his matings. The biologist, observing the phenomena 
of reproduction in a short series of generations, and breeding to 
secure full manifestation of the laws of inheritance, deals impartially 
with characters. If a character can come back, he gives it every 
opportunity to do so. He considers the character recessive, tending 


to recede in the race if not interfered with ; that is the natural 
status of such characters. The breeder, who works as far as pos- 
sible with predominant characters, considers a character which has 
once disappeared and may reappear, latent. As a rule, his only 
interest in it is to prevent, as far as possible, its reappearance. The 
reappearance of latent characters after a lapse of one generation 
is called alternate inheritance. The reappearance of characters 
after a lapse of two or more generations, but still traceable to 
comparatively near ancestors, is called reversion. The appearance 
of a character not belonging to the race as it exists, or to its 
known ancestors, but presumed to be derived from a very remote 
ancestor, is called atavism. 

From the occurrence of the phenomena of alternate inheritance, 
reversion, and atavism we conclude that the germ contains possibil- 
ities of development of any character of any ancestor, however re- 
mote ; by the regularly diminishing frequency of the occurrence of 
a recessive character, as the number of generations of ancestors 
free from it increases, we conclude that, once eliminated from a 
single individual, a family, strain, or variety, practically free from 
that character, may be produced in three or four generations. 

Laws of heredity. A general law of inheritance may be based 
on the rate of increase of a dominant character in a race, or on 
the decreasing reappearance of a recessive character. The law as 
worked out by Galton, from the investigation of inheritance in 
human beings, is generally accepted by poultry breeders as a 
correct expression of the general behavior of characters of poultry 
in reproduction, and as showing approximately the percentage in 
each generation of birds which show a selected character com- 
mon to all observed ancestors, or a rejected character absent in 
all observed ancestors. 

Gallon's law. An individual inherits from each of its two 
parents of the first generation, \ of its total characters ; from each 
of its four parents of the second generation, ^ ; from each of its 
eight parents of the third generation, J ? ; from each of its sixteen 
parents of the fourth generation, ^ ; from each of its thirty-two 
parents of the fifth generation, j^, an d so on. 

Applied to a single character appearing in an individual but not 
present in other members of the race, this means that one fourth 


of the direct progeny of that individual would be likely to inherit 
that character. If, then, two of the offspring possessing the char- 
acter were bred together, the chances of its appearance in their 
offspring would be one fourth from each parent and one sixteenth 
from the grandparent. Nine in every sixteen of the second gen- 
eration would inherit the character. As by constant selection the 
number of ancestors which had the character is increased, and the 
proportion of ancestors which did not is steadily reduced 
and its influence rapidly diminished, only a few generations are 
required to reach the stage of fixity of the character in the race 
where the influence of ancestors unlike in respect to it becomes 
a negligible factor. 

Galton's law is not a law or rule of practice in poultry breeding. 
The attitude of the practical poultry breeder toward it should not 
be misunderstood ; it cannot be said that he uses it. As a formal 
statement based on scientific investigation it has been especially 
serviceable to those giving instruction in the principles of breed-" 
ing, to prove the general rule of selection, to demonstrate the 
stability and practical purity of new breeds and varieties, and to 
show the need of close breeding to fix and hold desired combi- 
nations of characters. 

Mendel's law. Of more importance than Galton's statement 
were the discoveries of Mendel in regard to the behavior of unlike 
characters in transmission. When first published by Mendel, these 
attracted no attention. Mendel's account of his work was redis- 
covered about 1 900, and has since profoundly influenced the course 
of investigation of the subject of heredity. 'Unfortunately many 
scientists who took up this work with enthusiasm failed to note 
some serious faults in Mendel's treatment of his results and in his 
enunciation of principles based upon them, and consequently, though 
a considerable amount of this work has been done with poultry, it 
has not yet yielded results of such value to poultry breeders as at 
first seemed likely to follow scientific investigation in this field. 

Mendel, experimenting mostly with the sweet pea, observed l 
(i) that in the offspring of certain crosses a certain character of a 
parent form might disappear ; (2) that when these offspring were 

1 For a fuller statement of Mendel's law see Davenport's " Principles of 


bred together and also with the parent forms the behavior of this 
latent character and of the corresponding dominant character seemed 
to follow a definite law, there being approximately fixed ratios of 
frequency of occurrence of such contrasted characters in each pos- 
sible combination of parent forms ; (3) that certain individuals in 
which a latent or recessive character reappeared in this generation 
were pure as to that character, while a like number presenting the 
dominant character were pure as to that character, and a number 
equal to these two classes combined had the dominant character 
but would not certainly produce offspring having it ; (4) that in 
breeding from this last class there would be regularly produced the 
same proportions of pure dominants, pure recessives, and individ- 
uals in which the visible character did not correspond with the 
germ character. 

It is plain that, if this was a^ correct interpretation of his results, 
Mendel had discovered and formulated a law of great importance 
to practical breeders. But Mendel's own interpretation of his re- 
sults was faulty in these respects : (i) attributes which were prop- 
erly grades of characters he regarded as "opposite " and "mutu- 
ally exclusive " characters, and (2) he did not discriminate carefully 
in the examination and description of his results. The modern dis- 
ciples of Mendel have generally persisted in these errors, and are 
only now beginning to avoid them and to present their results so that 
practical breeders will give them serious attention. Furthermore, 
in nearly all Mendelian discussion it has been assumed that Men- 
del's law related especially to cross-breeding, and that its principal 
practical application would be to the making of new breeds and 
varieties, while poultry breeders as a class are most interested in 
perfecting established races, and discourage the multiplication of 
varieties. To be of direct use to the mass of poultry breeders the 
facts of Mendelism must be demonstrated with pure-bred poultry 
and the laws stated for direct application in the breeding of pure 
races. In all the confusion on this subject it seems clear that the 
behavior of characters in transmission is less eccentric than has 
been supposed, and that it may be possible to devise systems of 
breeding and of record keeping which will enable breeders to 
identify those individuals which breed true as to desired char- 
acters, and to eliminate more certainly and rapidly from their flocks 


those specimens in whose progeny undesirable latent characters 
would appear. Incidentally, the methods of studying breeding 
problems which Mendelism has introduced are likely to lead to 
important discoveries in relation to other phenomena of breeding. 
Correlation of characters. If we have, to begin with, such an 
individual as we desire, and the work is not obstructed by failure 
of the individual of the desired type to breed, or by adverse pre- 
potency of individuals mated with it, it is easy to fix or to eliminate 
any single character, and this can be done in a very few genera- 
tions ; but in breeding to fix, maintain, or produce a type, it is 
necessary to consider many characters at the same time. If each 
character, in its various expressions, were absolutely independent 
of every other character, the making and maintaining of types ap- 
proximating fixed standards would be a hopeless task. The char- 
acters of an individual, being parts of an organism, are often 
necessarily similar in certain manifestations, either throughout or in 
closely related groups. The welfare of the individual depends to 
a great extent upon the adaptation of its parts to each other and 
to its conditions and mode of life. So there are established, in any 
race or family bred on any principle of selection, certain apparent 
correlations of parts occurring so regularly that, when considered 
only where they occur, they appear to indicate an essential unity, 
making the group of characters act as one. Thus, the body, legs, 
neck, and head of a bird have as a rule a similarity (differing 
outlines considered) of proportions ; a bird with long body is likely 
to have a long neck, head, and legs ; a bird with very short, strong 
bill and broad skull is likely to be short and heavily built throughout. 
That these correlations are not essential is seen when we find in 
such a variety as the Exhibition Game fowl an increase in length of 
neck and legs quite out of proportion to the increase in length of 
body, and in creeper varieties the size (including length) of body 
maintained, while the length of neck is slightly, and the length of 
legs greatly, reduced. Again there is a natural, general tendency to 
correlation in structural character of bones, muscles, and skin. If 
size and muscle are developed, making a large x heavy body, the 
tendency is to coarseness throughout, coarse bone, coarse-fibered 
flesh, and coarse, thick skin. But on examination of a number of 
birds of this general type it will be found that there is not close 



correlation, while when fowls of different types and breeding but of 
like weights are compared, great differences are found in weight 
of bone and in texture of flesh and skin. In short, while the tend- 
ency to correlation which constitutes physical symmetry is marked, 
the fact that it is variable and easily broken up indicates that such 
characters are not necessarily correlated. 

Correlation of external characters with constitution and function. 
A distinction must be made between the normal state of a character 
and transient, abnormal expressions of it. To one observant of the 
attitudes and actions of animals and birds under a variety of circum- 
stances, the general attitude and carriage of body and limbs, the 
movements, the expression of the eye, etc. indicate immediately 
whether the creature is in normal health or not, and in a healthy 
creature afford means of estimating its vitality. There is plainly a 
correlation in such things, but" not of the kind under consideration. 
It is merely the expression of the general condition of the creature. 
By correlation of external and internal characters is meant such par- 
ticular relation between a certain external, plainly visible character 
and a certain functional character, or a certain quality which cannot 
be determined by ordinary inspection of the creature in life, that the 
external character serves as" an index of the value of the other. 

The most familiar cases of supposed correlation of external and 
internal characters in poultry relate to the laying capacity in fowls. 
The size of the comb has long been popularly considered a reliable 
index of relative laying capacity. To a less extent popularly, but- 
more widely among poultrymen, a certain shape of body is regarded 
as the egg type, invariably found in great layers. Like all fal- 
lacies, these have a slight foundation in fact. That the condition 
of the comb of a hen varies according to the activity or inactivity 
of the reproductive organs is so evident that no one who has the 
care of fowls can fail to see it. Normally the comb of a hen, is 
larger when she is laying than when she is not, and brighter in 
color ; 1 the comb of a pullet does not develop until she is about 
to lay ; the growth of the comb of a cockerel corresponds with the 

1 The fully developed, bright-red comb is not an infallible sign that the hen 
is laying. Many hens with diseased ovaries, and some that never lay, have 
well-developed combs. In a healthy hen, however, there is regularly a difference 
in the appearance of the comb when she is laying and when she is not. 


development of the reproductive organs. When a hen is not lay- 
ing, the comb becomes smaller and loses its bright-red color. If a 
sufficient number of cases is considered, a comparison of egg pro- 
duction of hens with large and hens with small combs will always 
show that the size of the comb is not correlated with laying capac- 
ity. Neither as between varieties or breeds, nor between individuals 
in a variety, does the size of the comb indicate laying capacity. 
Many uncommonly good producers have very small combs. 

The shape of the comb and the size and shape of the wattles 
sometimes appear to be correlated with reproductive capacity in 
both cocks and hens. Many instances are noted of fowls with 
poorly developed combs and wattles that are lacking in vitality. 
Males of this kind are often marked as poor breeders. In these 
cases the failure to develop is not peculiar to the comb and wattles. 
The body is not well developed, and in the males the lack of 
development of the male plumage is noticeable. 

The alleged egg type in hens is a long-bodied bird, appearing 
wedge-shaped, with the broad part of the wedge at her rear 
when she is viewed either in profile or from above. The type de- 
scription is borrowed from the favorite description of the dairy 
type of cow. It applies with varying accuracy to most hens when 
laying heavily, but the records of experiment stations which have 
investigated this point confirm the view of careful observers among 
poultrymen that there is no correlation between shape of body and 
laying capacity. 

Quite a long list might be made of supposed correlations of 
external features with internal characters or qualities. A few will 
show the general character of all. White birds of all kinds are 
popularly considered weaker in constitution than others, but not 
the slightest foundation for the idea can be found in a general 
comparison. A red eye is considered by many as an indication 
of reproductive vigor, but, except as heightened color of the eye 
gives a brighter, bolder, expression and reflects good physical con- 
dition, it would be hard to show foundation for the idea. People 
who prefer a special color of skin often aver that there is a corre- 
lation between color of skin and quality and flavor of flesh. Some 
justification for this view may be found in the fact that the meat 
types of western Europe, with white or gray skin, are of better 



average table quality than the fowls of America, where yellow- 
skinned poultry is generally preferred. It is not the color of the 
skin, but selection for quality, that makes the difference. The 
European breeders give careful attention to meat quality ; in 
America very little attention has been given to the development 
of fine quality in table fowls. 

Tradition, prejudice, and superficial observation are the princi- 
pal sources of ideas of correlation of external and internal charac- 
ters in poultry. In a general way the development and condition 
of external characters indicate the development and condition of 
all characters. Correlation of development is general rather than 
special. The substantial characters of a species are necessarily 
closely correlated. In a state of nature the superficial characters 
are also closely correlated, but in domestication natural groups 
may be broken up and new combinations formed, and after a few 
generations the combination as a whole tends to reproduce with 
only slight modifications. 



The work of the breeder consists in intelligent direction of the 
natural laws of reproduction for certain definite purposes. His 
object is not (as is so often erroneously supposed) to secure the 
perpetuation of natural types, or of the types of domestic live stock 
which would develop under any given conditions if he did not 
interfere. If such were his objects, all that would be necessary 
would be to destroy individuals presenting marked variations from 
the common type and to allow others to mate according to chance 
and inclination. The breeder's part in the development of domes- 
tic races is to bring order out of the chaos of variation called 
mongrelism. From a practically unlimited stock of types he selects 
the few found most serviceable, or which seem to him most beau- 
tiful, fixes these types and tries to persuade others to use and 
preserve them. What nature would do in any particular case 
interests him either not at all or only as it gives him an insight 
into the properties of the living matter with which he works. 
While the standards to which he breeds are practically fixed, in 
successful individual work in breeding the results are always pro- 
gressive. If the first independent efforts of a breeder show im- 
provement in good stock, that is usually due to chance and is 
likely to be lost in the next trial. It is when the poultry breeder 
finds, year after year, better quality in his good birds and a larger 
proportion of birds of high quality, that he knows that he is 
applying principles correctly. 

While it is not to be expected that the independent work of a 
novice in breeding stock of any type will give at first a high grade 
of results, there is no need of the rapid regression from type, and 
deterioration of quality, usually shown in the work of the novice 
beginning with good poultry. With very rare exceptions novices 
in poultry breeding begin their work with two wrong ideas firmly 
fixed in their minds. They suppose that absolute purity of blood 



gives uniformity in results, and that the great evil they have to 
guard against in breeding is loss of vitality and of " practical quali- 
ties " through breeding from birds near akin. 

The history of the development of races shows very plainly that 
the development and preservation of artificial types depends upon 
systematic, continuous selection. The fact that self-division is the 
first form of reproduction, and that self-fertilization is the law in 
both the vegetable and the animal kingdom until a high stage of 
development through variation is reached and sex becomes neces- 
sary as a check on variation, shows that inbreeding is not in itself 
detrimental. The breeder who accepts these two facts at the be- 
ginning of his work is in a position with reference to it which no 
one who fails to apprehend them ever reaches. It would be hard 
to find a successful poultry breeder who did not date the beginning 
of his success from the time when he came to appreciate the fact 
that any breed or variety in his hands became what he made it, and 
that outbreeding tended always to disintegration of well-established 
types. The effective use of principles of breeding as deduced from 
phenomena of reproduction depends on the application of principles 
without prejudice. 

Adaptability of poultry breeding. In poultry breeding, and 
particularly in the breeding of fowls, we find the one line of animal 
breeding open to every one who has the use of a little land. The 
ordinary farmer cannot be an independent breeder of horses or 
cattle ; the number of animals' he can produce and mature on his 
farm is not large enough to give him either the necessary experi- 
ence or a proper selection of breeding stock. With sheep and hogs 
the ordinary farmer may, if he is so inclined, do something in the 
way of special breeding. With poultry the resident on a village 
lot may do in a few years more actual work in breeding than most 
growers of other domestic live stock can do in a lifetime. The rela- 
tively small individual value of ordinarily good breeders, and the 
rapid rate of increase in poultry, make it possible for a breeder to 
secure a few good individuals by a very small investment, and to 
build up a large stock in a short time. 

Length of life and breeding value. The short life of most 
kinds of poultry is a disadvantage to the breeder, in that the full 
measure of the breeding value of an individual may not be found 


until its usefulness as a breeder is nearly over. The value of a 
stallion or a mare, or of a bull or a cow, as a breeder may be demon- 
strated long before the animal has reached its prime. Then many 
years of life remain in which the breeder may use a few selected 
individuals year after year. But except in the larger and less pro- 
ductive kinds of poultry, the breeder must make a large proportion 
of new matings every year. The numbers produced by even large 
stock breeders are less than those produced by the average small 
poultry breeder. The poultry breeder usually has an abundance of 
material for selection, and if he attends to it year by year, may 
make much more rapid progress in any desired direction than the 
breeder of cattle and horses. On the other hand, inattention to 
selection of breeders for a year is almost certain to put him back 
two or three years, while two or three years' relaxation of vigilance 
in efforts to maintain or develop a type will usually make it neces- 
sary for him to begin all over again. A breeder of horses or cattle 
might neglect special attention to breeding for several years, and 
yet, if he retained a part of his stock, take the work up again about 
where he left it, and with the same individuals. In a like period 
of time a neglected stock of fowls or ducks would include a very 
small proportion of individuals of known breeding. The breeder 
of poultry has to give practically constant attention to the selection 
of breeders. 

Relative value of male and female. If in polygamous crea- 
tures the females produce normally but one or two young at a birth 
and breed but once a year, the apparent breeding value of a male, 
bred to any given number of females, is equal to that of all the 
females, for he has a 'one-half influence on the progeny of all, while 
the hereditary influence of each female is limited to her own prog- 
eny. Then whatever of peculiar merit an individual in any gener- 
ation may take from its dam is limited to that individual. Its sire 
and dam may reproduce its like, one or a few each year. When 
it arrives at maturity, it may reproduce its special merit in its off- 
spring, if a male it may reproduce its type in a considerable 
number ; if a female, in a very limited number each year. Under 
such conditions a male of great individual merit or prepotency is 
much more valuable than a female. As the number of young pro- 
duced by the female increases, her practical value in reproduction 


of type as compared with that of the male increases ; for while the 
male may still influence a very much larger number of offspring, 
the female may produce enough offspring in a season to enable a 
breeder to produce in the next season hundreds or even thousands 
of young from matings of her offspring. As between a male and 
female of equal breeding value, polygamous mating constitutes a 
handicap of one generation on the female. This, where a genera- 
tion matures in less than a year, is a very slight difference. An 
experienced and skillful poultry breeder places as high a value 
on the female in his breeding operations as on the male, though 
commercially the male is more valuable because a purchaser may 
realize more quickly on his investment. 

Selection. In nature the established type of a species or a variety 
is the type that is best adapted to its environment. Such types 
develop as a result of natural selection, defined by Darwin as " the 
survival of the fittest." In improved domestic races types are arbi- 
trarily determined by man in accordance with his needs or his 
tastes, and are secured and maintained by allowing only individuals 
of the desired types to propagate their kind. Such types are called 
artificial types (breeds) and the system of selection by which they 
are made and preserved is called artificial selection. 

Superficially, artificial and natural selection often seem to pro- 
ceed on radically different principles, and so are by many regarded 
as essentially antagonistic. The impression is very general that 
artificial selection is unnatural, at variance with nature. This is 
true only when by artificial selection the development or suppres- 
sion of a character is carried to the point where the result becomes 
detrimental to the race. In domestication natural selection becomes 
in a measure inoperative, and the natural type varies and multi- 
plies indefinitely. Artificial, or intelligent, selection then becomes 
necessary for the isolation and development of a limited number 
of the types arising. In the wild state conditions make it impos- 
sible for many special types of a species to develop in the same 
territory. In domestication, man may develop, by the control and 
separation of individuals, as many types as he wishes. As long as 
selection does not unduly disturb the natural equilibrium of char- 
acters, artificial selection is not unnatural ; and in so far as, with- 
out injury to others, it develops special characters beyond what 


is possible under natural conditions, it is better than natural 
selection. The difference between the common type of a wild 
race and the finest type of the same race in domestication is a 
measure of the difference, in its value to man, of natural and 
artificial selection. 

Poultry standards. The continuance and distribution of a 
specific type or variety in domestication depend upon the agree- 
ment of breeders on a standard for that type. In the development 
of a breed or variety in any locality an unwritten standard is gradu- 
ally evolved, and the breeders are loosely governed by that standard. 
When a variety is widely distributed and competitive exhibitions 
bring together stock from many localities, a written standard be- 
comes necessary. Unwritten standards, as a rule, relate only to the 
most conspicuous features of a type, and allow great variation in 
details. Written standards undertake to establish size and weight 
and to describe every visible character. They are usually mere 
outlines, and often seem vague to those not familiar with the varie- 
ties described and with the popular types. Even when descriptions 
are supplemented by pictorial illustrations, a written standard is 
quite inadequate as a description of a variety. In studying a stand- 
ard the novice must use as illustrations live birds of known values 
as commonly measured by that standard. The standard of a breed 
or variety describes the assumed perfect type of every character of 
that variety. Such a standard is ideal, in that the model form of 
each and every character is not often found in any one bird. 1 The 
ordinary view of standards makes such a standard (in theory) the 
ideal toward which all breeders are striving. Actually, considering 
the relations of a standard to its variety at different periods of the 
history of the variety, and the inevitable differences in interpretation 
of its provisions, a written standard only indicates general direc- 
tions and bounds, and the exact type in style at any time can be 
learned only by observation of the type that wins most prizes at 
leading shows. 

The term " standard " is technically (but not discriminatingly) 
used in this country with specific reference to varieties described in 

1 The technical fiction is that the perfect bird cannot be produced. .While the 
proportion to the whole number is small, many birds are produced which only 
hypercritical judgment can find fault with. 


the "American Standard of Perfection" 1 published by the Ameri- 
can Poultry Association. Stock bred for any definite purpose or to 
fix or maintain any character or combination of characters is, prop- 
erly speaking, standard bred. The Standard of Perfection is a hand- 
book for judges and exhibitors rather than a complete guide for 
breeders ; for, although the breeder's object is to produce birds of 
the descriptions the Standard calls for, in all varieties many birds 
of great value as breeders are found which the Standard disqualifies 
for exhibition, while in every variety in. which double matings are 
used the exhibition type is regularly produced from matings of Stand- 
ard birds of one sex with non-Standard birds of the opposite sex. 

Relative value of characters in selection. When fowls are 
bred for eggs, without special attention to increase of egg produc- 
tion, there are only two essential points to be considered, vitality 
(vigor, good constitution, and development) and size ; and in respect 
to the latter point, all that is necessary is that the fowls shall be 
large enough to lay eggs of the average size that the market de- 
mands. All other points may be disregarded. In breeding for the 
table, shape also must be considered, making vitality, size, and shape 
the essential points. In breeding for exhibition, carriage, color, 
comb, crest, and other superficial features become of importance. 
In applying standards in accordance with the original and rational 
intent of the written standard, superficial characters are not given 
valuations which make it possible for a bird inferior in substantial 
characters to win by superiority in superficial characters, and espe- 
cially not by exaggeration of valuation of a single character. The 
common effect of the use of written, accurate standards is to bring 
a variety quickly to a high state of development in superficial char- 
acters. After this stage has been reached and the birds (with the 
usual slight individual variations) are actually of very uniform 
quality (on a fair interpretation of the terms describing the various 

1 In a general way the practice of the American Poultry Association has been 
to give recognition to breeds or varieties at an advanced stage of develop- 
ment whenever a considerable number of persons showed interest in the matter, 
but it has frequently happened that breeds that were quite popular were refused 
recognition, while others in which few were interested have been admitted. 
Recognition in the Standard of Perfection usually implies that considerable 
progress has been made in fixing the type. The fact that a breed or variety is 
not in the Standard tells nothing as to its quality. 


sections), the tendency is to make the decision of relative merits 
turn on a few special features, to overvalue such features, and so, 
by corresponding undervaluation of other features, to develop a 
few favored characters at the expense of the rest. Many illustra- 
tions of this kind might be given. There is hardly a variety in 
the Standard that has not at some time suffered through such 
partiality for some character. The most marked cases are those in 
which the variety has lost popularity through the development of 
a feature which finally became detrimental ; but the evil is by no 
means confined to such. The craze for dead-white plumage for a 
time made the white varieties conspicuous for lack of shape and 
vitality. The craze for barring "to the skin" leads breeders of 
Barred Plymouth Rocks to some neglect of shape and size. In 
Leghorns and Polish the head points have been rated as high 
as thirty per cent of the value of the specimen, with the result, in 
case of the Leghorn, of so reducing size and neglecting shape of 
body that the breed seemed at one time in danger of losing stand- 
ing with the public. In breeding birds for exhibition the breeder 
is forced to follow prevailing fads. Doing so does not necessarily 
compel neglect of other characters, but as the fad develops it be- 
comes more and more difficult to find and produce specimens 
good in the favored section and also in other sections. 

Systems of selection. In selecting his breeding stock a poultry 
breeder uses two principles, or systems, of selection, applying some- 
times one, sometimes the other ; thus the common method of 
selection is by irregular alternation of these systems. Selection by 
a complex standard may be (i) progressive (or particular), consid- 
ering certain characters or groups of characters always in the same 
order, and rejecting from subsequent consideration all individuals 
failing to meet requirements at any stage of selection, and (2) simul- 
taneous (or collective), in which an effort is made to consider all 
the more important characters collectively, balancing faults in some 
against merits in others. It is not practicable to apply the progressive 
principle to a great many characters, one by one. By a division of 
characters into natural groups, with separate consideration of each 
group and of the principal characters, and collective consideration 
of all but the more important characters in a group, a simple and 
effective working system of selection is developed. 


Division of characters for this purpose gives three classes, which 
may be designated as (i) essential, (2) substantial, and (3) superficial. 

Essential characters. Whatever the purpose for which poultry 
are bred, they should have (a) good constitution, (b) size appropriate 
to minimum requirements, and (c) individual symmetry. Lacking 
constitutional vigor, a bird is not likely to produce offspring equal to 
itself in other respects. The difference may not be perceptible in 
comparing consecutive generations, but a comparison of stock bred 
for several generations with care to preserve vitality, and stock in 
which this point has been neglected for a similar period, rarely fails 
to show marked deterioration in the latter. Constitution not only 
affects the quality of other characters but the numbers produced, 
the losses of stock, and so (indirectly) the methods of practice. In 
size the birds selected as breeders must always be large enough to 
produce offspring that will meet the ordinary requirements of the 
purpose for which the stock is bred. Stock bred for egg production 
must be large enough to lay eggs marketable at prices for average 
receipts ; stock bred for market must be large enough to produce 
poultry that will meet at least the minimum ordinary demand. So 
with stock bred to sell for breeding or laying purposes, if the 
stock is vigorous and has the size required for the ordinary produc- 
tion of eggs and market poultry, it is salable, though deficient in 
many other respects ; but if it lacks constitution and ordinary size, 
it cannot, as a rule, be profitably grown for any purpose. Individual 
symmetry means a symmetrical development of the individual with- 
out regard to any particular standard ; there may be symmetry of 
parts without correspondence with any special established type. 
Individual symmetry implies absence of deformity. 

Substantial characters. Size as related to special uses or stand- 
ards, and distinctive shape and color, are substantial characters. If 
a particular size of market poultry is to be produced, the birds used 
for breeders must be of appropriate size. In breeding birds, of any 
established race, to be sold for exhibition or breeding purposes, the 
breeders selected must closely approximate the standards of weight 
for their breed or variety. They should also have the distinctive 
shape and symmetry of the breed or variety, both as to body and as 
to the general size and shape of other parts in which characters are 
distinctive. Color, too, is a substantial character in so far as it may 


have an influence on profits with poultry of no particular color type, 
or may qualify a specimen as of some particular color type. In 
breeding for market the breeder, as a rule, avoids black and dark- 
colored birds, especially if they are to be dressed and sold before 
maturity. In breeding to color standards (even without close atten- 
tion to the finer points of color) a line must be drawn between color 
faults which may be tolerated and those which ought to condemn 
a bird for breeding purposes. 

Superficial characters. The fine points of color and of shape, 
particularly of shape as not affecting any useful quality, are su- 
perficial characters. It is the superficial points which make the 
differences between those individual specimens of a race that are 
worth consideration for exhibition or breeding purposes, which 
give to the specimen finish and proportionately increasing money 
value, provided these superficial characters are found with the de- 
sired essential and substantial characters. Remarkable finish in 
color or in some other conspicuous feature is often found on birds 
of poor shape, or distinctly inferior in size, or lacking in constitu- 
tion. Such birds are' not usually salable at high prices, but the 
breeder is strongly tempted to use them, in the hope of getting a 
proportion of offspring with their excellence and without their faults. 
An experienced breeder who knows his stock thoroughly, who re- 
lies on other matings for most of his stock, and who uses such birds 
only in special matings may sometimes succeed in doing this. A 
novice rarely gets the desired results, and if (as is too often the 
case) the use of such a bird for breeding affects a large part of the 
produce of a season, he may lose more than he could possibly gain 
if the bird bred up to his expectations ; for a bird of this kind 
rarely impresses its good quality on any considerable proportion of 
its offspring. 

Progressive selection, with the elimination, at each step, of all 
individuals which fail in the requirements under consideration, pre- 
vents the development of stocks strong in some fancy points but 
lacking in essential and substantial characters. The more rigid the 
selection, the smaller becomes the number of birds that will pass it. 
As a matter of business policy the breeder must so regulate his 
selection of available stock that he can make the most profitable 
use of it as a whole, but to establish himself firmly as a breeder 


he must make the best possible use of the relatively small pro- 
portion of each year's produce in which he finds combined a high 
degree of excellence in many characters. 

Collective selection and compensation in breeding. Progressive 
selection can apply in practice to only a few of the more important 
characters. It is in effect selection for the elimination of faults 
which the breeder regards as intolerable. When birds with such 
faults have been eliminated, what remain will always show consider- 
able variation, and this will be most marked in superficial char- 
acters. Continued careful breeding reduces differences, but since at 
the same time it develops the breeder's critical faculty and his 
ability to distinguish slight differences, the proportion of what he 
considers good breeders in his stock may not be materially changed. 
There is usually a tendency, partly in the stock and partly in the 
breeder's selection, to develop a stock in the direction of its 
strongest points. The most effective checks on this are the written 
standard, competition, and the difficulty of selling specimens which 
are decidedly weak in any superficial character. 

Having eliminated the most unlike individuals by progressive 
selection, the breeder proceeds to make appropriate matings of 
those he has reserved by collective consideration not simply of the 
points of the individual but of the points of a pair, male and female. 
His object is to secure in the sexes, as far as possible, likeness 
to the type to be produced (sexual differences of color, etc. duly 
considered), and when the bird of one sex varies from the typical in 
any character, to secure in the other sex the opposite variation in 
that character, nearly all variations in well-bred birds being slight 
when compared with variations in specimens from parents markedly 
unlike. This balancing of opposite tendencies in variation is of 
little use, as a rule, when the characters considered represent wide 
variations, for the result of the union of such characters is likely to 
give many intermediate grades of blending of characters and only 
a very few of any desired grade. The mating of individuals differ- 
ing widely in any character is good practice only when the desired 
character cannot be secured by breeding together like individuals. 
The object of the compensation method in mating is not to enable 
the breeder to use for breeding purposes as large a proportion of 
his stock as possible, but to enable him to equalize the tendencies 


to variation in the individuals nearest the type. A skilled breeder 
never uses, in his regular matings of an established variety, birds 
varying conspicuously from the type which produces the standard 
type. Experience shows that, when the object is to produce uni- 
formity of type and high average merit, the most reliable breeders 
are those individuals with the fewest faults. The " good all-round 
bird " is almost invariably more valuable as a breeder than the 
bird conspicuous for special excellence of one character or a few 

Inbreeding and line breeding. Inbreeding refers to matings of 
individuals that are near akin. Line breeding is applied to various 
plans designed to conserve blood and race character without in- 
breeding. Theoretically, plans of breeding may be, and have been, 
worked out which would give the breeder, for use at frequent inter- 
vals, individuals bred in the same way from the same origin, the 
same blood separated by several generations. Possibly the specifi- 
cations could be carried out in practice, but the work is too com- 
plicated and the results are too uncertain, and experience in close 
breeding soon shows the breeder that it is not necessary to resort 
to such methods to avoid inbreeding. 

The most common form of line breeding is to maintain a male 
line intact, though occasional or even regular changes are made in 
the female line. Such line breeding gives better results than when 
breeding lines are crossed and recrossed irregularly. If the head 
of the line was an exceptional bird, and his male descendants used 
for breeding in each generation resemble him very closely, the 
type cannot fail to be strongly impressed on the stock, though 
females of somewhat different breeding are occasionally used. In 
most cases, when results of line breeding are conspicuously and 
regularly good, the breeder practices close breeding to a much 
greater extent than he thinks it wise to admit to a public with a 
prejudice against it. 

Close breeding. The term " close breeding " describes the prac- 
tice of the best poultry breeders more comprehensively than the 
more familiar terms "line breeding" and "inbreeding." Close 
breeding is necessary to secure such likeness in parents that 
similar uniformity may be produced in their offspring. Since an 
individual inherits, on the average, only one half of its characters 


from its immediate parents, 6.25 per cent from each of four grand- 
parents, 1.50 per cent from each of eight great-grandparents, and 
.39 per cent from each of sixteen great-great-grandparents, it is 
plain that if a breeder undertakes (as most breeders do at the out- 
set) to avoid consanguineous matings, he will always have in the 
ancestry of each generation of stock so many chances for reversion 
and recombinations of latent characters that his stock will never 
reach a high grade of excellence in many qualities. 

In selecting like parents for any generation the breeder usually 
finds that the birds most like in appearance (and generally in per- 
formance as well) are of near kin, that is, they are like in ances- 
try as well as in appearance. The advantage of mating like birds 
of like ancestry is so plain, and has been demonstrated so often in 
practice, that it is universally recognized. But there is a popular 
belief that close breeding (in-and-in-breeding), while of advantage 
to the fancier, is almost immediately destructive of vitality and of 
practical qualities, and quickly leads to sterility. This fallacy is 
less prevalent than it has been, and would soon disappear from 
among poultrymen if breeders did not, as a matter of policy, say 
as little as possible about this part of their breeding practice. 1 

The rule of good practice. Mate the best (for the object in view) 
individuals available, disregarding relationship, is the general 
practice of skillful breeders. It makes close breeding the usual 
practice, and at the same time leads to the introduction of new 
blood in small flocks every few generations, and in large stocks at 
less frequent intervals. As long as a breeder's matings within the 
blood lines of his own stock are giving him such breeding birds as 
he wants, there is no object in his going outside for new blood, 
but when he finds another breeder producing birds better than his 

1 The poultry breeder's ordinary and low-priced stock is bought mostly by 
novices who insist on having stock not akin. A large breeder making many mat- 
ings can furnish birds mated for breeding that are not near kin. The purchaser 
would usually get good results from a mating of this kind. But in a great many 
cases, so fearful is he of the dangers of inbreeding, and so distrustful of the breeder, 
that he buys from two different breeders at the same time and changes the males, 
or if he has some stock of his own, mates some of his females to the male pur- 
chased and one of his males to the females. An expert breeder who knew all the 
stock might do this with a specific object and get the results sought, but one who 
has no reason for a mating except to avoid inbreeding seldom gets good results 
from such changes. 


in any respect, unless he can make the same improvement in his 
own stock, he must have some of that breeder's stock. Usually he 
buys stock as the easiest and surest way to get what he wants. A 
breeder who is working on a large scale, making ten, fifteen, twenty, 
or more matings of a single variety every season, can, with a little 
care, avoid mating birds of near kin, yet keep within the same 
general blood lines. Such breeders, as a rule, consider the point 
of relationship only as it may affect the behavior of characters in 
transmission. Without exception these breeders are ready buyers 
of birds that they think may prove useful in their breeding. The 
small breeder, unless he has stock of high quality, and breeds very 
closely, is forced to go outside often, not for new blood but for 
better quality. 

The danger of introducing new blood. In any well-bred stock 
the danger of deterioration through the introduction of new blood 
is very much more real than any danger of deterioration through 
lack of new blood in stock bred with due attention to essential and 
substantial characters. While the point is not one easily demon- 
strated, there is reason to suppose that a mingling of blood lines 
long separated tends to bring out latent ancestral characters 
(more especially, the most troublesome faults of a variety). Hence, 
before making extensive use of a bird of different stock or of un- 
known breeding, an experienced breeder tries it in special matings, 
to find out how it will " nick " with his stock. A breeder may try 
a bird in this way a number of times with different mates without 
getting the results he wants. Small breeders, even after a good 
deal of experience, are too prone to take chances on a new bird 
that has taken their fancy in their general matings, often with 
the result that faults requiring years of careful breeding to elimi- 
nate crop out all through the progeny. The experienced breeder 
never relies on a new bird until he has tested it, and never lets 
a bird of proved breeding value go unless he has a better one for 
its place. 

Age and breeding quality. In those kinds of poultry which get 
their full growth within a year, it is commonly observed that the 
birds, if matured by the beginning of the breeding season, are more 
reliable breeders the first season than afterwards, producing more 
young, though the quality may be somewhat inferior to what the 


same birds produce in their second and third breeding seasons. . In 
the larger kinds, as geese and turkeys, the yearling males in par- 
ticular lack development and the two- and three-year-old males are 
usually in every way much better breeders. With regard to fowls 
and ducks especially the former many instances of great 
breeding vigor after the first year show that the common failure 
is due to conditions and management. Males are overworked dur- 
ing the breeding season and not given proper care after it. While 
old cocks are usually much less fertile in winter than cockerels, 
if in equally good condition they are as serviceable when spring 
approaches and will get larger and more uniform chickens. In 
general this is true also as to pullets and hens. It is largely a 
question of condition. The older the bird grows, the more diffi- 
cult it is to keep it in good breeding condition. Few fowls and 
ducks are as good breeders- the third year as the second, fewer 
still are good after the third year ; yet occasionally four- and five- 
year-old birds of both sexes will breed as well and the hens lay 
as well as young stock, and there are authentic instances of fowls 
breeding well at seven and eight years of age. 

Ratio of females to males. In ordinary breeding, with quantity 
the first consideration, it is usual to make the mating ratio as wide 
as possible, mating with each male the largest number of females 
that can be kept with him and a satisfactory percentage of fertile 
eggs secured. This number varies greatly for individuals of the 
same variety, and also in averages for males of different classes of 
fowls and of different kinds of poultry. In fowls it varies notably, 
also, with conditions of mating. When one male is penned for the 
season with the same lot of females, the usual practice is to mate 
with a male of the small breeds, from ten to fifteen hens ; with a 
male of the medium-sized breeds, from eight to twelve hens ; with a 
male of the largest breeds, from six to ten hens. These are about 
the numbers used by fanciers and breeders who select and breed 
closely for general matings. In special matings the breeder mates 
with each male such females as closely match, in appearance and 
breeding, the one selected as the best mate for that male. In mating 
as carefully as this a breeder rarely finds more than three or four 
females for a pen, and frequently finds only one. To get full serv- 
ice from the male in such cases, he may either alternate him in 


two small matings (the second of which is made up of females 
judged less desirable as mates for him but likely to produce some 
good birds) or mate him with females of several slightly different 
types and keep the eggs separate by trap-nesting the hens. When 
it is inconvenient to keep hens in as small flocks as ten or fifteen, 
many poultry keepers keep from twenty-five to thirty-five hens in a 
flock and use two males, alternating them at regular intervals. 

When hens in large flocks are used to produce eggs for hatch- 
ing, the proportion of males used is much smaller than for separate 
matings. With medium-sized fowls six males to one hundred 
females is generally considered sufficient. Good results have been 
reported from flocks of Asiatics with the same proportion of 
males. With large flocks of Leghorns the same proportion is used 
by many breeders, but others use a smaller proportion of males, 
some as low as three to one hundred hens. 1 

In ducks the usual mating ratio is one male to five females until 
warm weather (May or June) ; after that, one male to eight or ten 
females. As the males are not quarrelsome, and interfere with each 
other very little, breeding flocks may be of any desired number. 
Average flocks contain from thirty to forty breeders. In turkeys one 
male is mated with any number of females up to fifteen or twenty, 
the usual number being ten or twelve. All other kinds of poultry 
either pair or mate in small families. 

Period of fertility. Fertile eggs are often obtained, on the sec- 
ond day after the introduction of a male, from hens previously 
kept in celibacy, but usually fertility from a new mating is low for 
a week or two, especially in cold weather. Experiments have shown 
that hens may continue to lay fertile eggs for nearly three weeks 
after separation from the male, and that the fertility is likely to be 
as good for a week or ten days after the removal of a male as it 
was while he was present. In turkeys the influence of an impreg- 
nation is said to continue for a very much longer period, but this 
view seems to rest on a small number of instances not very well 
authenticated. Accurate observation is difficult, and the roving 

1 1 cannot say positively that fertility runs better in the large flocks with the 
wider mating ratio, but reports from breeders indicate to me that it does. The fact 
of the very regular difference in mating ratio for separate matings and miscella- . 
neous matings indicates more efficient service of the males under such conditions. 


habit of the turkey makes it quite possible for females and males 
from different flocks to mate without the knowledge of the keeper. 
There is no authentic instance of the influence of impregnation con- 
tinuing as long as three weeks in fowls. When birds of different 
varieties that have been running together are separated and mated 
each with its own kind, no effects of previous matings are likely to 
appear after a week or ten days. 1 The usual rule is not to use the 
eggs for hatching until two weeks after separation. 

Regulation of sex. It would be a decided advantage to many 
poultry keepers to be able to control sex, but there is no known 
method of either controlling or influencing the proportions of the 
sexes. Usually they are produced in nearly equal numbers, even 
in small broods. Occasionally one sex will greatly predominate in 
a brood, in a small stock, or in the offspring of a particular mating. 
Current reports sometimes indicate a general preponderance of 
one sex in a particular season, in which case every one with a theory 
on the control of sex can easily find instances which seem to con- 
firm it. When the preponderance of one sex is quite general, it 
suggests that some general condition may influence sex. If so, any 
general control of sex by the breeder is plainly impossible. On such 
scant and crude observations as have been made on this point, the 
only instances of regularity in predominance of numbers of one 
sex are found in particular matings or in individual birds. 2 In 
none of these cases did the tendency to produce one sex appear 
to be transmitted. It is possible that the occurrence of a large excess 
of one sex was purely accidental. 

1 It does not seem to me necessary to say more on the subjects of contamina- 
tion and telegony than is said above, except to add that in a considerable experi- 
ence with different kinds of poultry I have never seen a trace of contamination 
from eggs set two weeks after separation from a male 'of another variety, and that, 
although ever since 1897 I have made it a point to take up every case of mental 
impression reported to me, in not a single instance has a person reporting such 
cases been willing to answer questions or to have the case investigated. 

2 The most remarkable cases I have known or heard of were the following : In the 
early nineties I had a Houdan male that for two seasons mated in four different mat- 
ings, once with Houdan hens, once with Light Brahmas, once with Barred Plym- 
outh Rocks, and once with Brown Leghorns, produced regularly about five pullets 
in every six chickens. Mr. A. C. Smith informed me that the celebrated Barred 
Plymouth Rock male Rally produced the sexes regularly in about the same ratio, 
five females in six chicks, a quality in his case decidedly objectionable, the 
daughters of an Exhibition Barred Rock male being useful only for breeding. 


Mating systems. Whenever Standard specimens of both sexes 
can be produced regularly from a mating of a Standard male 
and a Standard female, the practice is to mate in that way. This 
is called the single-mating system. When the Standard require- 
ments for males and females of a variety are such that the desired 
type of male and female cannot be regularly produced from a mat- 
ing of a Standard male and female, two distinct lines, or sub- 
varieties, are developed, one to produce Standard males and one 
to produce Standard females. This is called the double-mating 
system. Whether or not the necessity for double matings shows 
inconsistency in the Standard depends upon the points of view. 
From the practical poultry man's point of view it does ; from the 
fancier's point of view it does not. The occasion for double mat- 
ings arises principally because of sexual differences in plumage 
color, which the fancier in some cases would intensify and in others 
would remove. In either case he can produce what he considers 
the finest type in one sex only at the sacrifice of his favorite color 
in the other. The particular reasons for special mating will appear 
in the discussions of matings of such varieties as the Barred Plym- 
outh Rock and the Brown Leghorn. Here it need only be said, 
with reference to the general question of the system to be used, 
that in all varieties for which the double-mating system is com- 
monly used, a breeder who adopts the single-mating system cannot 
compete, in the production of high-quality stock, with those who 
use the other system. Intermediate matings (so called) are some- 
times used, in which a male about medium between the two types 
of males used in the distinct lines is mated with females of both 
types. That method may give satisfaction when a breeder works 
only for his own pleasure, or when competition is not too strong. 


In general a character common to a number of breeds or varieties behaves 
the same way wherever found. Its behavior sometimes varies because of differ- 
ent ancestral influences, but on the whole the rules for mating which apply 
to a character or a combination of characters in one variety will apply to all 
similar characters and combinations. Hence, in a general consideration of de- 
tails of mating poultry the subject may be greatly simplified by considering 
similar types in groups. The special details of mating are principally color 
details. In consideration of shape points the application of the rule requires 


only knowledge of the type to be produced ; in substantial points of shape 
" like closely produces like." But in color and some superficial points sex 
differences and tendencies must be considered. In poultry other than fowls the 
color varieties are few. In fowls the duplication of color types (varieties) in 
breeds (shape varieties) is so general that discussion of color matings can be 
reduced to a few heads. In the treatment of details fowls will be considered 
first, and the order of consideration of objects and characters will be (i) egg 
production, (2) meat production, (3) superficial characters. 

Mating fowls for egg production. In common practice mating for egg pro- 
duction deals only with a few essential characters. Whatever the type or variety, 
when eggs are the special object the male should be an active, vigorous bird, and 
one that grew quickly and matured a little earlier than the average for males of 
his race. He should be of at least average size or, in a variety having a standard 
for weight, should closely approximate that weight. The hens should be selected 
for the same points, except that, as each hen influences only a small proportion 
of the offspring, and the mating ratio is usually made as wide as possible, it is 
not so necessary to give special attention to the point of early maturity in indi- 
vidual cases. If the mating is made, 'as it should be, before February, any pullets 
that are then well developed and laying may be used with reasonable assurance 
that the proportion of slower-maturing birds is not large enough to materially 
affect the general result, provided the male is not one that developed slowly. 
The matter of size is more important in selecting breeders to produce layers 
than in selecting layers. Slightly undersized hens often lay as well, or better, 
than larger hens, and lay as large eggs. A male a little under size may give 
offspring not notably smaller than those of a somewhat larger male, but the 
continued use of breeders of less than average size for their kind quickly reduces 
the average size of the stock. Even with care to use only birds not below medium 
size, the proportion of smaller stock is usually larger than desirable. Many 
poultry keepers who are indifferent to this point in mating offset their error by 
careful selection of the eggs set, taking only such as are of good size, form, and 
color. When only a small proportion of the eggs are to be set, this may be the 
more convenient and economical way to select ; but since the hens of medium 
size, or larger, are usually the hens that lay the kind of eggs selected, it is 
better, when the object is to get as large a proportion of selected eggs as pos- 
sible, to exclude small birds from the matings. 

Breeding for improvement in egg production. The practice in mating just de- 
scribed, with good management in growing and handling the stock, will bring the 
egg production from poor-laying flocks to a good annual average, with occasional 
production in a part of a stock or for a season much above the average. These 
occasional instances of great production stimulate interest in the question of 
bringing the common average production of a stock up to the high marks, and 
the results from the best producers proportionately higher. Many breeders 
have tried to develop heavy-laying strains from known great producers. Results 
have sometimes seemed encouraging in a few individuals, but there are no 
authentic records of extraordinary laying characteristics continued in a stock, or 



even in selected specimens, for more than a very short term of years. More 
careful experiments on an extensive scale have been carried on for many years 
at the Maine Experiment Station, with similar results. 1 The present line of 
experiment at this station seeks to determine how far egg production may be 
improved by breeding from prepotent heavy layers. As far as increase in possi- 
bilities of egg production in the individual is concerned, the whole question 
seems to depend on whether or not the number of ovules produced by a bird 
is congenitally fixed in the individual, variable in individuals, and generally so 
small that the supply might 
be exhausted within the aver- 
age productive life of a hen, 
that is, within three or four 
years. It has been commonly 
assumed that the possibilities 
of production in the ordinary 
.unimproved hen were small 
and were increased by selec- 
tion. It has been supposed 
that ordinarily a hen having 
laid a few hundred eggs would 
permanently cease because of 
the exhaustion of the supply 
of ovules. The observations of 
Raymond Pearl and Frank M. 
Surface on the numbers of 
visible ovules indicate that 
there is always present a 
greater supply of elementary 
eggs than any hen is capable 
of developing. Here, as every- 
where, nature is prodigal with 
the elements of life. With FIG. 482. Dark Brahma cockerel with extraor- 
the number of elementary dinary breast development. (Photograph from 
eggs in an ordinary hen five owner > F - w - Rogers, Brockton, Mass.) 

or six times as great as the 

total of eggs laid by the average hen kept until three years old, it is plain that 
the practical problem in breeding for increase in egg production is to produce 
stock with the substance, constitution, and functional vigor required for the com- 
bined strains of heavy egg production and reproduction. As a rule, it is found that 

1 Actually the first line of experiment at this station showed a decrease in 
egg production, but the results are not strictly comparable to the results of 
experiments of individuals, because the individual breeder discards all apparently 
inferior specimens, while at this station close selection of breeders was not fol- 
lowed by close selection of pullets for layers, except in one or two instances 
for special observation. 



as breeders the greatest producers are inferior to average good producers. Hens 
producing two hundred eggs in a year are not as likely to produce daughters 
that are extraordinary layers as are hens that have performed more moderately. 
The great laying individuals come generally from moderate layers of strong 
constitution. Extreme heavy laying saps vitality and tends to sterility. 

In the light of the commonly observed facts as to the increase of individual 
egg production, the extraordinary layer appears as the culmination of the devel- 
opment of the tendency and capacity to develop eggs. In general, what may be 

FIG. 483. Silver-Gray Dorking cock, ideal table shape. (Photograph from 
owner, Arthur C. Major, Ditton, Langley, Bucks, England) 

regarded as the supreme effort in egg production leaves the individual without 
reserve force for reproduction. A rare individual with vitality enough for both 
may prove a good producer of heavy-laying stock. Such an individual, of great 
prepotency, might be bred, with striking results in high egg production, for a gen- 
eration or two, but the steady drain of egg production, and its ordinary effect on 
reproduction, tends always to abrupt cessations of progress in this direction. 

Influence of the male on production of eggs. If the supply of elementary 
eggs is always ample the only influence of the male to be considered is his 
influence on those characters which affect the capacity to develop eggs. It has 


FIG. 484. Light Brahma cock * 

laying strains. Within heavy-laying stocks 
of breeding shows that the sons of 
heavy-laying hens reproduce that 
quality in the same manner as the 
daughters. Some males do unques- 
tionably have a strong influence on 
the laying capacity of their daughters, 
but it seems to be due to transmission 
of the characters that give capacity, to 
develop eggs. 

Mating for table poultry. In the 
development of poultry for food pur- 
poses, more than in any other line of 
poultry breeding, the conditions of 
production tend constantly toward an 
undesirable modification of form and 

1 These birds won prizes for best- 
shaped Light Brahmas at the Boston 
Show when this variety was one of the 
big classes there. They are birds of a 
good utility type. 

repeatedly been found by 
breeders who had made 
marked increase in egg 
production by simple selec- 
tion and good care, and 
by close breeding for a 
term of years, that when 
they went outside of their 
stock for new blood, the 
introduction of males of 
different breeding was im- 
mediately followed by a 
sharp decline in egg pro- 
duction. This fact has 
been one of the strong 
arguments in favor of the 
theory that the number of 
elementary eggs was rela- 
tively small and was pro- 
gressively increased by 
individual variation and 
selection. Such results are 
often attributed to the use 
of males not of heavy- 
the lack of uniformity in results 

FIG. 485. Light Brahma hen 1 



reduction of vitality. The develop- 
ment of a meat-type fowl that will 
grow quickly, fatten readily, and still 
produce, at the season when eggs are 
most difficult to secure, an abundance 
of eggs that will hatch a high per- 
centage of vigorous chickens, is the 
most difficult line of work with poul- 
try. A flying bird has enormous 
development of the breast, that is, 
of the muscles which move the 
wings ; the proportion of meat else- 
where is very small. Terrestrial 
birds in the natural state have the 
muscles of the wings and legs more 
equally developed, but in every case 
the relative development of muscles 

of the anterior and posterior sets of limbs, with their adaptations to different 

methods of locomotion, depends 

upon the habits of the bird and the 

amount of use of each. When birds 

are domesticated and the flying habit 

discouraged, the inevitable result is 

a reduction of the muscles of the 

FIG. 486. A "cochiny" Light Brahma 
hen, not a utility type 

FIG. 487. Long-bodied Barred Plym- 
outh Rock pullet l 

FIG. 488. Barred Plymouth Rock cock, 1 
good utility type 

1 Owned by Grove Hill Poultry Yards, Waltham, Massachusetts. Photograph 
by Schilling. 


wings and an enlarge- 
ment of the muscles of 
the legs ; and the larger 
the bird, the more marked 
is the difference in devel- 
opment of the wing and 
leg muscles. In flying 
birds the meat of the legs 
and that of the breast (or 
wing muscles) are of al- 
most the same color. In 
most domestic land birds 
the meat of the fore part 
of the body is light (or 
" white "), that of the hind 
part, dark. In waterfowl, 
not so far removed from 
the flying habit, the meat 
of the different parts is 
much the same in color, 
but with a tendency to 
lighter color in the ante- 
rior portions. Difference 
in color of muscles of 
different sets of organs of 
locomotion in domestic 
poultry is plainly due to difference 
in development and use. Through 
disuse the muscles of the wings, 
which are the most highly devel- 
oped muscles of the normal bird, 
lose color, become soft, and finally 
diminish in size. But it is this meat 
which most people prefer ; hence it 
becomes necessary for the breeder 
of table poultry to give particular 
attention to the development of the 
white meat, that is, to keep up the 
quantity of development in this 
character when its natural tendency 
is to diminish. This he can do only 
by the most rigid selection of breed- 
ing birds well developed in this sec- 
tion, and by different methods of 
handling the birds to be developed 

FIG. 489. Partridge Cochin cock. (Photograph by 

FIG. 490. Partridge Cochin hen. 
tograph by Graham) 


49 8 


FIG. 491. White Cochin hen. 
graph by Graham) 


for breeding purposes and those to 
be used for food as soon as they 
have reached the desired stage of 
development. Stock to be devel- 
oped for breeding purposes must 
be allowed and even encouraged l 
to use the wings enough to coun- 
teract the tendency to atrophy 
through disuse. 2 The tendency to 
fatten, most desirable in stock bred 
for the table, is directly opposed to 
the continued production of eggs. 
A degree of fatness may be main- 
tained with great prolificacy and 
breeding power, but the general 
tendency of breeding from birds 
that fatten readily is to reduce egg 
production and fertility. Unavoid- 
able and troublesome as such con- 
ditions are, the difficulties they 

present may be overcome by selecting as breeders individuals which show, 

with the fullest development of form, considerable activity, and by properly 

differentiating between methods of 

managing breeding stock and stock 

not to be used for that purpose. 

1 In such heavy breeds as the 
Brahma and Cochin, the difficulty 
that some of the birds have in flying 
to ordinary roosts two feet or so from 
the ground leads some breeders to 
discard roosts and bed the birds on 
the floor. Invariably the stock of 
such breeders will, after some years, 
become conspicuously deficient in 
breast. A fowl that, when in health, 
cannot fly to a roost two feet from 
the floor ought never to be consid- 
ered for breeding table poultry. ' 

2 This does not necessarily mean 
that the bird should have the oppor- 
tunity or develop the ability to fly 
high. By flapping the wings, by using 
them in running, and by low, short 
flights, a bird may give its wing mus- 
cles enough exercise to maintain 

FIG. 492. White Plymouth Rock cock, 

owned by Elm Poultry Yards, Hartford, 




FIG. 493. White Orpington hen. (Pho- 
tograph from United States Depart- 
ment of Agriculture) 

What the breeder of table poultry 
aims to secure in his stock is full form, 
quick growth, and a fattening tendency 
strong enough to make the birds fatten 
readily under favoring conditions, yet 
not so strong as to be troublesome 
under the usual conditions given to 
laying and breeding stock. As a rule, 
that part of an individual's lifetime in 
which the desired balance of qualities 
can be maintained is short as compared 
with the normal productive life of its 
kind. So we find that generally types 
that make good poultry are the profitable 
layers and breeders for only one, or at 
most two, seasons ; but occasional indi- 
viduals are found which, in this and 
other points to be considered by the 
breeder of table poult