Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Eggs also constitute a by no means unimportant article of commerce. The largest supplies to the English markets are obtained from Ireland : from which country the annual exports of eggs, according to official returns, amounted in 1835 to seventy-two millions; but now it is estimated that we yearly receive one hundred and fifty millions. Of this number London and Liverpool respectively consume twenty-five millions each.

The chief imports from the continent are from France, some from Holland and Belgium, and occasionally from Spain and Portugal. Half of this supply is taken off by the consumption of the metropolis. Besides being valuable as an article of food, eggs are largely employed in the manufacture or dressing of kid gloves, the yolks being used to soften the leather: in this way upwards of 80,000 eggs are annually consumed in one large glove factory at Bermondsey ; the eggs when imported being placed in lime water, by which they are kept good for use a whole twelvemonths. From the returns of the Board of Trade, it appears that the average number of eggs annually imported and entered for home consumption in Great Britain, during the period ending 1828 to 1832, was 61,431,062; from 1833 to 1837, it was 68,493,516; and from 1838 to 1842, the average reached 91,393,732: since which the yearly imports have been as follow :

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Whilst in the five months ending May 1853, the number entered for consumption has amounted to 51,694,026, showing a diminution in comparison with former years. The weight of the annual imports is about 4500 tons; and the value of the same reckoned at only 4d. per dozen eggs will be £150,000, which would be very considerably enhanced if we added the extra charges for freight, duty, &c.

More insignificant, though scarcely less necessary, articles of commerce in connexion with poultry are the feathers and down. From the earliest times they have been eagerly collected and sought after to furnish the luxury of soft couches and beds : and under the reign of Henry VI. their value caused them to become the subject of a statute or enactment. At the present day the down and feathers of ducks, pigeons, and partridges are used in France for pillows and mattresses. In the Lincolnshire fens, where goose-rearing is very extensively carried on, the feathers are considered most valuable ; as for stuffing beds those of geese are esteemed more suitable than others. Whether from increasing desire for luxuries, or the dimi

[ocr errors]

nution in supply, or from both causes co-operating, the demand is obliged to be supplied by importation; and the value has consequently been maintained, and indeed increased. The down of the Eider duck is collected in very considerable quantities by the inhabitants on the coast of Sweden and Iceland, where the fowls locate themselves in great numbers. The Eider down (of which each duck yields about one pound) is rendered so valuable by its lightness and elasticity, which is so superior, that two or three pounds, whilst capable of being compressed into a ball a man might hold in his hand, are sufficient to fill a foot-mattress for a bed. The declared value of foreign feathers imported into this country

a

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Messrs. Hering of London have recently introduced, and successfully, the purification of feathers on an extensive scale by steam machinery.

CHAPTER IV.

NATURAL HISTORY OF GALLINACEOUS BIRDS. CLASSIFICATION, NOMENCLATURE, AND COLOURS OF FOWLS.

SPECIES AND VARIETIES.

UNDER the term Domestic Poultry are generally comprehended, in this country at least, the common fowl, turkey, guinea-fowl, goose, and duck; to which may now perhaps be added the pigeon, although this latter, together with the swan and pea-fowl, would be more correctly described as ornamental poultry. The wild breeds of those species are generally known as Game, and include pheasants, partridges, grouse, water-fowl, &c. : which are objects of pursuit for pleasure to the sportsman, and also in the case of water-fowl more especially) to those residing on the sea-coast, and in the vicinity of lakes and rivers, where they are taken in decoys for market. In ornithology, however, the heterogeneous members of the poultryyard are separated, and distributed and collected under their respective orders and genera, or families. Thus the gallinaceous fowls are comprised in the order of birds called Rasores, or scratchers; and which also include, according to the systems of modern writers, the family of Columbide, or pigeons; the web-footed or duck tribe being classed in another order, called Natatores, or swimmers.

The order Rasores is divided into five great genera or families; but it is only with two of them that we have anything to do,-namely, Pavonide and Columbide. These families are again divided into sub-families or smaller groups. Poultry are comprehended under the following classes, in the arrangement of which it may be remarked that we have alone consulted the form most convenient for the design of our work, and have not adopted it with any view to scientific accuracy.

Ord. RASORES; Gen. PAVONIDÆ. Sub-fam. Type.

Sub-fam. Type. Gallus, The Cock. Meleagris, Turkey. Phasianus, Pheasant. Numida, Guinea-fowl. Pavo, Peacock.

Gen. COLUMBIDA.
Sub-family, Columba,-Type, Pigeon.

Ord. NATATORES; Gen. ANATIDA.
Cygnus, The Swan. | Anas, The Duck.
Anser, The Goose.

The general characteristic points of the Rasorial birds are these: body large, heavy, but compact in form, with full, ample chest; the general plumage

« VorigeDoorgaan »