This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Under any and all circumstances partridges are far less destructive to farm-crops than pheasants, and unless over-preserved, when injury to root and other crops may result from the numerous " dusting " places and also feeding on produce they otherwise would not, probably compensate for their keep by devouring obnoxious pests. The most damage is done when the cultivation is high and the game-preserver, intent on as large a bag as possible, regardless of where the nests may be, little diffident about bushing, and not careful in ranging potato and turnip fields. The two never agree. The tenant is wholly bent on crop production, and the owner acts as if desirous of sharing in the profits by preserving and even rearing as much game as possible. This, however, occurs but rarely in the case of partridges under normal circumstances, for though large bags may be made in some districts - as on the famous partridge grounds at Chippenham Park, where a day's shooting in October, commencing shortly after ten and closing at five o'clock, the King being one of the shooters, resulted in a bag of 669 partridges, 38 pheasants, and 82 hares - the difficulty is more in the opposite direction, for which letting the shooting is in the main responsible.
But in not a few instances the natural stock of partridges on an estate is improved by turning down some imported Hungarian birds in order to mate with the native birds, and thus strengthen the stock. The Hungarian birds are usually delivered early in January, turned down in pairs, a few couples at a time, not far from a double hedge or covert, and are fed with grain for a short time until they make themselves at home.
Partridges are also hand-reared similarly to pheasants, except that it is desirable to obtain small and light hens for sitting, tame and used to handling bantams making good mothers. The young partridges are carefully fed, at first on yolk of hard-boiled eggs and about an equal quantity of partridge meal, mixed up like breadcrumbs, after a time some biscuits may be added, and afterwards a little prepared meat chopped fine. The little birds are sparingly supplied with "ants' eggs," and when old enough led up to grain-feeding with good canary seed, and in due time the birds take to the fields.