The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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The Management of Poultry.—They must be provided for carefully, both by proper lodging and feeding. The chief points required are ist, a warm and dry lodging; 2d, proper vegetable and animal food ; 3d, a supply of lime, pebbles and dust; 4th, have air and water, and 5th, the proper rearing of the young.
Lime, pebbles and sand or dust are as necessary as corn for fowls. Lime is necessary for the formation of the shell, Fowls that are confined often lay soft eggs, because they cannot get what they want. Slack lime or old mortar is good. The latter acts as a natural aid to the triturating powers of the stomach. Fowls are subject to parasites, and try to get rid of them by bathing in the sand or dust, and hence the importance of their having a supply of it in a dry state.
Moulting Season.—Which begins with September or the first fall month. During this time they require more than common attention. They should be kept dry, warm and well fed. Six weeks will see the fowl through his trouble, if he be hardy and strong. The hen seldom lays during the moult. Their mate seems to feel that he is of no consideration.
Breeding and Cooping Chickens.—When all the chicks are hatched out they should be placed with their mother under a coop in a warm, dry place. If two broods are turned out at the same time, care must be taken that they be kept separate, for they get mixed or go into the wrong coop. In which case they will be treated badly if not killed by the hens into whose dwelling they have unwit­tingly gone. They should be kept under cover at nightfall and the chicks turned loose when the sun becomes warm. After being gradu­ally weaned from soaked bread and chopped egg, and then grits or boiled barley or samp be given ; in 8 or 10 days their stomach will be strong enough to receive bruised barley, wheat or oats, and at the expiration of 20 days, if the chicks be strong and healthy, they will be able to take care of themselves. It is but to have a care over them some days longer and see that the older fowls do not drive them away from their brood. The most prominent and fatal cause of disease is to suffer the chicks to run about the wet ground and on the damp grass. A shallow plate of water should be placed in the coop for the chicks to be supplied with water, for in a deep vessel they might get wet, drenched or drowned.
The best Way to Fatten Fowls is to let them have the run of the farm yard, living off the offal from the stable and live on dairy scraps, plenty of fresh air and exercise. Some who produce the fat­test and largest fowls give them a gruel made of pot liquor and bruised oats, to which are added sugar, milk and hog's grease,