As in other business enterprises, method is absolutely necessary in poultry farming. The work of feeding the stock, cleaning out the various structures, managing the incubators or broody hens, egg collecting, etc., must be performed at regular times. The attendant must at no time get behind with her work or the stock and appliances will suffer, and loss, rather than gain, will result. The aim of the poultry keeper should be to have no more birds and appliances on the premises than can receive regular and proper attention from one's self or the one in charge.
It is not the number of fowls one keeps that ensures success, but the useful qualities of those that are kept, combined with good management. And, be it remembered, good management is of quite indispensable importance.
Twice a year the poultry shelters and the fencing forming the runs should be inspected, and any defects caused by accidents or the weather should be made good. During the spring all necessary outside tarring and painting should be done. Houses painted in the spring will add to the good appearance of the stock running near them, and visitors will be impressed, probably to the poultry keeper's advantage.
In the autumn an inspection should again be made of the structures, and any defects in their walls or roofs should be remedied, so that the inmates may escape damp and dangerous draughts during the stormy winter months.
During spells of hot weather fowls confined to earth runs must be protected from the powerful rays of the sun. Fowls can no more thrive under a blaze of sunshine than they can during periods of frost. It is during the two extremes of weather that the birds must have special attention, or disease will break out.
During hot weather temporary shelters should be provided by driving stakes into the ground at suitable distances apart, and stretching calico or sacking across and fixing it to them.
Fabric, some four feet wide, fixed to stakes of the same height, will shade a good portion of the ground, and to this the birds will resort during the hottest part of the day.
Again, the soil in earth-runs is liable to become baked and hardened in hot weather. It should, therefore, be watered every day without fail with the spray-pump or watering-can. Fowls are liable to go lame through running daily on earth-runs that have become uncomfortably hard through exposure to hot sunshine.
The birds should not be compelled to seek the shelter of the roosting-house or scratch-ing-shed during the hot part of the day. The more fresh air and exercise they get in the open the healthier they will be, and everything, therefore, should be done to provide the necessary means to this end.
Instead of scattering the grain among the . litter under the scratching-shed, it should be lightly buried in the earth in a shady part of the run, when the birds will get healthy open-air exercise scratching after it. Drinking vessels should be kept clean and well supplied with clean water, and the grit-boxes should be kept supplied with flint grit and crushed oyster shells.
In the management of the stock and plant economy must be practised in every direction. By this I do not mean that the food given to the fowls must be of a low-priced grade, or that anything used in the operation or preservation of the appliances must be of second-rate quality. It is false economy to invest money in anything of a " cheap and nasty" kind. Extravagance must, however, be avoided, and advantage must be taken of everything that can be turned to good account.
There are many items in the management of poultry that call for economy, such as the care and preservation of hatching and rearing appliances, coops and runs, etc. Such appliances, before being stored at the close of the hatching and rearing season, should be thoroughly cleaned and stored under cover for the winter, when they will be in a clean and dry condition for painting, limewashing, etc., when the breeding season again comes round.
Treated thus carefully, such appliances will wear treble the length of time as will those left lying out in all weathers during the autumn and winter.