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or brassy hue, detracting much from the beauty of the birds; occasionally even this variety has been known to cast partially mottled white plumage in moulting, which we should regard as indicating some impurity in the breed,—at any rate an unmixed uniform black plumage should be the required standard in the East Indian variety: the bill, legs, and webs, of a dusky greenish black : tail not very much developed, and the adult drake carrying some few of the middle feathers slightly curled up on the back. The duck is scarcely inferior to the drake, either as regards size or plumage,-herein constituting a remarkable exception to its tribe generally, the female almost invariably showing a marked inferiority to the male in every respect. There is a singular peculiarity this variety alone possessesthat of laying black eggs, or rather eggs with shells covered on the upper surface with a film or pigment of sooty-black hue; this, however, only takes place at the commencement of the laying season, for after the first few eggs are laid, the colouring gradually disappears, but they never have so light a colour as those of the common kinds. Our portraits (Plate IX. fig. 3) were taken from some beautiful specimens, in the possession of Messrs. Youell and Co. of Great Yarmouth.
There are many ducks which assume a sort of nondescript character, and which, whilst they
may be considered as domesticated, yet appear isolated from the common and known varieties. There is the Marsh Duck, as it is vulgarly called in Norfolk; rather a diminutive kind, very much resembling the Mallard both in appearance and plumage:—they are, we believe, almost exclusively confined to the eastern and fen counties, where they are kept in large numbers in the sedgy swamps of the marshes,—or it might rather be said that they keep themselves, for they seem to exist in a semi-domesticated state, and are wild and unsettled in their habits; the only thing to be said in their favour is, that they scarcely require to have any food, care, or attention bestowed upon them. Upon the coast part of the county of Norfolk, in the cottagers' yards are frequently to be seen specimens of a small Dutch breed, of a very pretty and peculiar appearance: the plumage is of a whole colour, either a slaty-blue or dun shade, or else a sandy-yellow or cinnamon, something like the colour of the fur of a tortoise-shell cat: a gentleman of our acquaintance, who had some of this latter colour, called them Rotterdam Ducks, having obtained them from that place. The Call Ducks, also from Holland, are of very small proportions : they are only kept or valued, as their name indicates, to serve as calls in the
decoys” for wild water-fowl, a purpose for which they are admirably suited, owing to the vociferous and interminable quacking which they
sustain with evident delight to themselves: they are of two sorts, one with plumage of a pure white, and the other with feathering of a greyish-brown like that of the Mallard ; and the drakes and ducks of this latter colour are invariably selected in Norfolk (noted for its wild-fowl decoys) as the most preferable for the purpose required. Of the Tufted Tame Ducks, said to have “crests as compact and spherical as any Poland fowl,” we have no experience, and we have only heard of isolated cases and of rare occurrences: they are probably freaks of nature, and incapable of being rendered permanent in breeding.
ECONOMIC VALUE OF POULTRY FOR THE TABLE-PRODUCE
--RELATIVE QUALITIES OF FOWLS-PROFIT-CHOICE OF STOCK.
In Britain, where a greater quantity of butcher's meat is consumed than probably in any other part of the world, poultry has ever been deemed a luxury, and consequently not reared in such considerable quantities as in France, Egypt, and some other countries, where it is used more as a necessary article of food, than as a delicacy for the sick, or a luxury for the table. In France, poultry forms an important part of the live stock of the farmer, and it has been said of that country, the poultry yards supply a much greater quantity of food to the gentleman, the wealthy tradesman, and the substantial farmer, than the shambles do; and it is well known, that in Egypt it has been from time immemorial a considerable branch of rural economy, to raise domestic poultry for sale, hatched in ovens by artificial heat.
It has been a general and popular topic of de
clamation, that in former and presumed happier times, our small farmers' wives raised a superior quantity of poultry to that which has been produced of late years; a position, at best, very questionable, since poultry has never yet risen in price beyond the proportion of other articles of food, and since the demand of the markets has been supplied in as full a measure as formerly. Suppose a heath or common, on which poultry has been customarily bred, is enclosed and improved into farms, is it not probable that, generally at least, as large a quantity of poultry is reared as upon the land in its former state of waste, and producing no corn, a food so absolutely necessary for that kind of stock? In fact, it is open to the observation of every one, that poultry has never been in this country a favourite or prevailing article of diet with the lower or middling orders of the people; thence our farmers, whether little or great, could never be more profitably employed, whether for themselves or the community, than in the production of the more substantial articles of food: in the mean time, the demand for the luxury of poultry never fails to be satisfied to the utmost extent.
GALLINACEOUS Fowls. In the opinion of physicians, both ancient and modern, the flesh of the chicken at three months old is the most delicate of all other animal food; thence best adapted to