A weight, which may consist of an old tomato can half filled with stones and cement, is immediately attached by means of a wire hook to the lower mandible of the bird. Then by grasping the wings close to the back, the bird will not be able to flutter, and can be easily and rapidly plucked. This, of course, should always be done while the bird is bleeding. The can catches the blood, and by hanging the bird over a barrel the feathers may easily be saved.
Care of Feathers and Eggs (Lambert) Feathers.
When dry picked and sorted so as to keep the stiff from the soft, and the white from the colored, feathers have a market value worth considering. Mixed colors of soft chicken feathers bring 41/2 to 10 cents per pound, and pure white bring 20 cents per pound. Duck feathers bring 33 to 42 cents per pound, goose feathers 42 to 60 cents per pound, goose quills 15 cents per pound. Long, bright-colored chicken feathers are sold for millinery purposes at about $1 per pound. The stiff turkey feathers are in great demand for feather dusters and the like. Feathers are cured in sacks of thin material exposed to the sun and air for several days. They can be sold and shipped in these original sacks.
General care of eggs.
Eggs for market will keep better from spoiling if not fertilized. Those from mated pens should be kept from heat over 60° Fahr. The nests should be kept supplied liberally with dry sawdust or some clean absorbent. The eggs that become soiled should be wiped with a damp cloth and never submerged in water if they are to be kept more than one week. The natural color of the shell is not indicative of the quality of the contents, although the preferences of the market should be catered to, if one wishes to secure best prices. Brown-shelled eggs are usually larger than white shelled ones, because all the larger breeds except one lay brown eggs, or those from a delicate pink to a light chocolate. The color of the yolk is controlled by feeding green foods and certain grains. Eggs are porous and susceptible to taint from bad odors. Care must be taken to keep them in clean, cool places. Marking the shells in any way is not desirable. Cartons holding one dozen eggs can be purchased from paper dealers. These have specially printed covers, " One Dozen Fresh Eggs," etc., and can be used several times if desired. Cases holding fifteen or thirty dozen each, for shipping to the trade, are popular sizes.
Deliveries and shipments should be made each week ; if a private trade, on the same day of each week. There are wire fillers for the cartons that display the eggs very attractively, but require more time in placing the eggs and removing them from the trays. With the straw-board fillers, each egg is in a separate compartment, and there is little danger of breakage. If one becomes cracked, the leakage is usually confined to the one compartment.
Eggs intended for cold storage must be absolutely fresh, free from dirt, and packed in standard-size thirty-dozen cases ; and the fillers must be free from mold, dirt, or odors of any kind. Cold-storage plants begin operations as soon as the lower prices are reached, about April 1, and continue until the latter part of May. During warm weather the quality of eggs deteriorates, and they do not keep so well as when cooler. The market for these cold-storage goods opens in the fall and continues until Christmas.
Eggs should be gathered every day, and all broody hens removed from the house. If a nest is found in an unusual place, the eggs should be tested before a bright light, and the unclear ones discarded.
There are several methods of preserving eggs during spring and summer and keeping them wholesome until they will bring higher prices, but none by which they can be kept any length of time and sold as fresh-laid ones. The shells may be covered with melted paraffin or vaseline to prevent evaporation, and they will not spoil so long as they are kept cool and turned every few days. Packing in common salt and turning occasionally is another method. The contents remain sweet and wholesome, but the albumen will not beat up as it will in fresh-laid ones. The shell will lose its freshness, and the eggs will not remain good long after being taken out of the preservatives, and they should be designated as preserved eggs when offered for sale.