[ocr errors]

perior whiteness of the skin and flesh, the fineness of the meat on the breast, and being of a sweeter and higher flavour; it is also thought that the males attain a greater size, and that the females are better breeders, than the lighter coloured fowls; at any rate many of the most intelligent of our poultry-wives refuse to rear any but the Black, being persuaded in their own minds that they are the most profitable. The age of Turkeys is indicated by the scales on the legs: these when the bird is young are smooth and soft; when old, they are rough, hard, and rigid.

Guinea-fowls, from their wild, untractable, and rambling dispositions, have been placed under the ban and excommunication of almost the whole poultry world; though we believe, if properly managed, they would prove a most useful and profitable description of poultry, from the number of eggs they lay, and the ready sale the birds themselves command for the table. If allowed to roam, moreover, they will find half their food-indeed, whether allowed to do so or not, is of little moment, they will by some means or other forage up half what they require.

Of both Geese and Ducks it may be said that they are, generally speaking, reared with very little trouble, and a fair amount of profit; they are alike valuable to the small farmer, the cottager, or the allotment holder, or indeed to any one living within range of waste grounds or commonage, where they may be maintained at little cost either as regards food or trouble of management. The Goose has

par excellence a claim to be included among domestic poultry—which it is in every sense, whether as regards habits, utility, or economic value. Nobody requiring Geese would dream of breeding them for their beauty or their plumage-size and weight being the invariable requisites sought for, and these can be always attained under proper management cheaply and readily,—as they shift for themselves almost from the very shell. .

Ducks, from their aquatic nature, have the merit of thriving exactly in those places where all other kinds of poultry will not, in damp, swampy districts. In almost all rural sites or marshy places -in fact, every where in the proximity of a pond, dyke, or other run of water, they may be kept with profit; for although they have been charged (and justly) with being most enormous eaters and inordinate gluttons, they are satisfied with, and indeed greedily devour, all kinds of offal and garbage which other fowls would turn up their bills, if not their noses at. They will also clear away slugs and snails from gardens, whereby, however, it must also be admitted, they will do much damage to the young greens unless looked after carefully: ponds or pieces of water covered with weeds can easily be cleared by placing a few ducks upon it, for which purpose they are useful.




It has been already observed, that the warmest and dryest soils are best adapted to the breeding and rearing of gallinaceous fowls, more particularly chickens: thence the greatest success, attended with the least trouble, may be expected on such ; and far greater precaution and expense will be required on those of an opposite description. Of these last, the wet and boggy are the most injurious, since, however ill affected fowls are by cold, they endure it still better than moisture; whence they are found to succeed well upon dry land, even in the severe climates of the north. The warmer climates are far more favourable than ours for the purpose of raising poultry, and the same rule necessarily holds with respect to our own country, where it has been found that upon dry and shingly land, like the sea-beach, and where scarcely any care was taken of the breeding stock, or shelter afforded to them, yet they multiplied in a most extraordinary degree, and were preserved in a constant state of good health. Upon

a boggy or clayey soil, under such circumstances, they would have died like rotten sheep. In short, land proper for sheep is generally also adapted to the successful keeping of poultry.

But as the rearing of them is necessary, upon soils and in situations of every description, it will be most to the purpose to point out those precautions which must be recurred to, in order to insure success upon the least favourable. Of such, then, artificial or made ground cannot be dispensed with for a poultry-yard, where rearing is made an object upon any considerable scale; since upon damp and boggy soils, not only will the greater part of the broods be annually subject to disease and mortality, but the cocks and hens themselves will be frequently affected, to the great impediment of the business of the breeding season. Where it is not held worth while to make any extraordinary accommodations for poultry, and the risk taken, enough may yet be preserved for family convenience and to repay the trifling expense. But no considerable stock can be kept, far less any profit made upon it, upon an unfavourable soil, independently of attention to needful local conveniences.

As there are perhaps no two country or farm houses laid out or constructed exactly alike, of course a person entering upon them, and intending to rear poultry, must, to a great extent, take things as he finds them, and avail himself of the existing buildings and conveniences as far as possible: it seems therefore useless to follow the example of our predecessors by laying down arbitrary rules for the construction of poultry-houses, which, under local or other circumstances, are almost always impracticable. Neither is it our intention to give a series of plans and diagrams of the regal and princely poultry-houses of the Queen and her nobles, which, although they make an imposing appearance in works of this nature, would seem calculated, by their extent and costliness, to display their owners' taste and extravagance in laying out their

money and the yards at the same time, -rather than to effect any object of practical good or utility, by serving as a model or design for poultry-keepers and amateurs. Where, however, poultry are introduced and reared for the first time on the spot, it is obviously necessary that some instructions and plans should be given to the inexperienced in order to enable them to build the houses, lay out the yard, and provide the requisite conveniences for the reception of the stock it is proposed to rear.

In this view therefore we have annexed some ground plans of such, which, though having no pretensions to be considered very elaborate or elegant, have at least the merit of being simple in design and construction, cheap in cost, and adapted to insure, under proper management, the well-doing of the stock: the references will, we think, render it perfectly intelligible to our readers—at least much more so than any mere description could.

« VorigeDoorgaan »