This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Almost every one keeps poultry, and while we have no interest ourselves in the different breeds, we have of late been at times much amused at the bragging spirit shown in some poultry articles, and especially in that kind which so confidently puffs the Brahmas, because we think the writers about as well posted on the delicacy of flesh as some who write on grapes and pears are on quality of fruit. Our own experience, after ourselves breeding many varieties, and paying very high. prices for Shanghais and Brahmas, is that the colored Dorkings are unquestionably the best in all respects - in that they are hardy,. only moderate eaters, good sitters, good layers; the young come early to maturity, and the form of the bird on the table is superior to all others, while its meat, even on old fowls, is delicate, even to the flesh of the legs. The Brahmas are good winter layers, great eaters, small eggs, comparatively, with thick shells, while the flesh of very young birds is good; but if kept to above half grown they are coarse, and the legs and wings, especially, are tough and stringy, and always with a yellow hide rather than skin, that almost resists cooking process.
The Dorking has for years had our preference as a bird for all purposes, of laying, breeding, etc.; and while all published works agree with us, yet often we find such varieties as the Brahma, Black Spanish, etc., much praised, and possibly justly so; but all who experiment carefully, and weigh well the subject, we believe, will join us in saying that for one breed alone the pure Dorking has the most good qualities. A cross of a Dorking cock with Brahma hens gives perhaps the largest and best chickens for early eating; but if the breeds are not kept pure - in other words, if the first cross be bred from, the succession will be unworthy the attention of any breeder, and therefore we find it best to confine ourselves to the Dorking alone. --The American Poultry Society will hold its first exhibition in this city on December 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th. All fanciers of fine poultry would do well to attend, as the show, from the inducements afforded to exhibitors, will be a fine one. See advertisement in this number.
We notice that the poultry fever is again rising, and we rejoice at it. Few appreciate the great amount of food produced by the keeping and raising of poultry. Eggs and chickens are almost a necessity in sickness, and always good to take in health. At this time the popular tone seems to run between Brahmas and Dorkings as the two leading breeds. The latter have stood the test of years under all conditions, and certainly are a breed combining, perhaps, as many, if not more, good qualities as any other. Brahmas for town gardens are desirable, as in winter they are good layers, and they do not ramble, or seem to desire to do so, as much as some other breeds. To any one who desires fowls for their eggs alone, the Bolton Greys we regard as one of the most valuable breeds - equally as good layers as the Poland, and much more hardy. As a fancy bird, glossily beautiful, the Black Spanish are unsurpassed.
We have bred at times nearly every variety, and our experience is in favor of the Colored Dorkings as a one pure breed; but we regard the cross of Brahmas with the Dorking cock as producing the hardiest, healthiest, best formed, and best layers of all. The cross, however, must be maintained each year, breeding only from the pure Brahma hen and Dorking cock.