Our geese, ducks, turkeys, and domestic hens are all descendants of wild
fowls, and are more or less similar to them in appearance.
The earliest recorded uses of fowls were for food, for fighting, and for
sacrifice. To-day the domestic fowl has four well-defined
uses--egg-production, meat-production, feather-production, and
Barred Plymouth Rocks, male and female; White Wyandottes, female and
Hens of course produce most of our eggs. Some duck eggs are sold for
table use. Goose and duck body-feathers bring good prices. As
pest-destroyers turkeys and chickens are most useful. They eat large
numbers of bugs and worms that are harmful to crops. A little proper
attention would very largely increase the already handsome sum derived
from our fowls. They need dry, warm, well-lighted, and tidily kept
houses. They must have, if we want the best returns, an abundant supply
of pure water and a variety of nutritious foods. In cold, rainy, or
snowy weather they should have a sheltered yard, and in good weather
should be allowed a range wide enough to give them exercise. Their
bodies and their nests must be protected from every form of vermin.
For eggs, the Leghorn varieties are popular. Some hens of this breed
have been known to lay more than two hundred eggs in a year. Specially
cared-for flocks have averaged eleven or even twelve dozen eggs a year.
Farm flocks of ordinary breeds average less than eight dozen. Other
excellent egg breeds are the Spanish, Andalusian, and Minorca.
The principal so-called meat breeds are the Brahma, Cochin, and
Langshan. These are very large, but rather slow-growing fowls, and are
not noted as layers. They are far less popular in America, even as
meat-producers, than the general-purpose breeds.
The Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte, Rhode Island Red, and Orpington are the
leading general-purpose breeds. They are favorites because they are at
once good-sized, good layers, tame, and good mothers. The chicks of
these breeds are hardy and thrifty. In addition to these breeds, there
are many so-called fancy breeds that are prized for their looks rather
than for their value. Among these are the Hamburg, Polish, Sultan,
Silkie, and the many Bantam breeds.
The leading duck breeds are the Pekin, Aylesbury, Indian Runner,
Muscovy, Rouen, and Cayuga. The principal varieties of geese are the
Toulouse, Emden, Chinese, and African.
Among the best breeds of turkeys are the Bronze, White Holland,
Narragansett, Bourbon, Slate, and Buff.
Geese, ducks, and turkeys are not so generally raised as hens, but there
is a constant demand at good prices for these fowls.
The varieties of the domestic hen are as follows:
I. _Egg Breeds_
4. Blue Andalusian.
II. _Meat Breeds_
III. _General-Purpose Breeds_
1. Plymouth Rock.
3. Rhode Island Red.
IV. _Fancy Breeds_
As the price of both eggs and fowls is steadily advancing, a great many
people are now raising fowls by means of an incubator for hatching, and
a brooder as a substitute for the mother hen.
The use of the incubator is extending each year and is now almost
universal where any considerable number of chicks are to be hatched.
Doubtless it will continue to be used wherever poultry-production is
engaged in on a large scale.
The brooder is employed to take care of the chickens as soon as they
leave the incubator.
Next: Bee Culture