The next thing to consider will be the breeds of fowls most likely to result in success under the conditions in which the poultry keeper intends keeping them, and most likely to carry out the object in view, whether that object be egg-production, table birds, the day-old chicken trade, or the three branches combined.
A combination of the three branches may be viewed with favour, as, during certain times of the year, should one branch be " out of season," another may be accounting for trade. Again, by having more than, say, egg-production solely in view, and working up a trade for day-old chickens, the eggs can be turned to a profitable account on the approach of spring, when prices are on the decline. In other words, when the high prices for winter eggs are declining, rather than dispose of all the produce for edible use, it will be much wiser to turn the same into chickens, which will ensure a far greater profit than the penny egg. As many sittings of eggs as possible should also be disposed of as well as chickens, the object being to put the produce in the spring to the most profitable use.
To carry out any two, or more, of the foregoing objects, the fowls chosen must be of the right class. Where a local trade can be secured during the autumn and winter for eggs and table birds, the land should be stocked with a general-purpose breed of fowls. Such fowls are quite passable as table birds to supply a local or country trade, and, if
A trio of White Wyandottes, undoubtedly the most useful of general utility hens, being both good egg-producers and excellent table birds the strain is right, they produce a profitable number of eggs. The better class trade demands a table fowl with white skin and legs, well fattened, shaped, and turned, but the generality of people do not consider these qualities in a bird. So long as the fowl is plump and tender, it matters not whether its shanks are white or yellow, so that for the production of passable table birds the poultry farmer is able to keep breeds that produce a creditable number of eggs. Such breeds would essentially be general-purpose ones, and undoubtedly the most useful of these is the White Wyandotte.
This breed has proved its merits as an egg-producer and also as a table fowl, having won many laying contests and scored premier honours at the leading dressed -poultry shows. Its legs are yellow, and its skin has a tendency that way; but the colour can be improved by proper feeding during the process of fattening. The White Wyandotte is suitable for the orchard run, or for confinement on garden plots. The White Orpington is another good all-round breed. It excels in quality of flesh over the Wyandotte, but cannot surpass or even equal it as an egg-producer; still, it produces a good number of eggs during the winter months, if rightly managed. Another passable breed is the Buff Orpington, it being a table bird and a good winter layer; but its eggs are often rather small, and it is a persistent sitter during the spring and summer.
As to what breed shall be chosen from the three mentioned above, this must depend upon the nature of the soil on which the birds are to run. If it is light, and naturally well drained, then one cannot do better than choose the White Wyandotte; but should it be heavy and naturally damp, then the White or Buff Orpington may be chosen with advantage. If egg-production is the main object in view, the aim of the poultry farmer should be to cater for an all-the-year-round trade; and to achieve this object two breeds should be chosen, one of which should be noted for its winter egg-producing qualities, and the other for its merits as a layer during the milder seasons of the year. The two best breeds to keep for all-the-year-round egg-production are undoubtedly the White Wyandotte and the White Leghorn. The former breed produces a good number of brown-shelled eggs during the colder months of the year, and also a -reditable number during the milder seasons; whilst the latter produces good-sized white-shelled eggs in abundance throughout the spring and summer, and is not to be despised as a winter layer, if well sheltered and allowed to have plenty of exercise under the scratching shed.
The Wyandotte is not an o v e r-broody variety, but when it does take to the nest it proves a reliable sitter and gentle mother. The Leghorn is a no n - sitter; and, being essentially an egg-producer, it makes a poor table bird when matured, but when eaten young its flesh is tender and juicy.
All the breeds mentioned above are popular, and as upon the popularity of any breed much of the success achieved depends, they may be taken up with advantage, either with a view to the production of edible eggs, eggs for sitting, the day-old chicken trade, or the sale of surplus cockerels for stock purposes.
The most suitable time to stock the land depends upon the object one has in view. If the necessary houses and fencing are erected by the end of August, one may purchase well-developed pullets in September, so that they may have time to settle down in their new quarters by October, and be brought on to lay well before the arrival of winter. By securing well-grown pullets, and properly attending to them, one will stand a chance of getting eggs during those months when they are at their highest
White Orpington cock and hen. This breed excels the Wyandotte in quality of flesh, but does not equal it in egg-production. If well managed, it is a good winter layer market value; and as the demand for eggs during the autumn and winter is generally in excess of the local supply, customers will be readily found. And such customers, if regularly supplied, will be likely to keep their names permanently on the books, and thus a local trade will be firmly established. During the following January these pullets must be mated up for breeding purposes, and as the proper mating of fowls for various purposes will be dealt with in another article, this should be read and put to a practical use. It is as well, however, to point out here that male birds intended to run with the pullets should not be secured until early in the new year, so that much of their winter's keep may be saved.
If one desires to rear the stock on the premises-a mode of procedure to be recommended, as, when fowls are reared on the place they are to occupy as adults, they naturally do well, feeling, as it were, "more at home"-then one may either procure sittings of eggs or chickens.
However one begins to stock the land, the birds procured should be well bred, i.e., bred with a view to egg-production. It costs a little more to get really good pedigree-bred stock, and this is the cheapest in the end . To stock the land with any class of fowl picked up in a haphazard manner would be courting failure. What is required is good, sound utility stock from a reliable source. There are those who specialise in egg-producing strains of fowls, and such breeders should be consulted with a view to purchasing eggs, chickens, or matured birds. Once in possession of the right class of fowl of a well-known strain, little difficulty will be experienced in selling eggs or chickens from them, as such a strain can be mentioned in advertisements, or told to visitors. Good layers cost no more to keep than bad ones, and, therefore, these should be 'the birds run on the farm, as from such stock alone can good results be expected.
[Questions relating to Poultry Farming will be gladly answered by the writer. Letters should be addressed to him, c/o the Editor of Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.]