Diary of A Poultry
Thoughts from a rural poultry keeper at the
turn of the last century.
"This is one of the coldest
months of the year, and one must see that the fowls are all comfortably
housed and in good condition. Pullets will be mostly laying by
this time and backward ones can be brought on by a special diet
of green bone fresh from the butcher's. The older hens ought also
to be well forward, and breeding-pens should be mated at once
with second or third year birds. In the early days five hens to
one cockerel should not be exceeded, especially as eggs are expensive
at this period, and one wants every one of them fertilised. The
male bird should be introduced to the pen about three weeks before
the eggs are required for incubating, and it is well to feed him
heavily for a week or two before mating up. A male bird should
never be allowed to run loose with pullets.
All birds not absolutely needed for egg-production or breeding
should be culled out and sold. Be sure that the house be as warm
as possible and free from draughts. Feed plenty of good, wholesome
food. If you feed dry mash, let the hopper be open all day, and
feed not less than two ounces of sound grain per bird per day.
If wet mash is fed, let the birds eat as much as they can pick
up in, say, half-an-hour, but afterwards clear away anything remaining
until the next meal. Vary the grain food by giving wheat, oats
and barley or kibbled maize alternately.
Get your incubators ready and give them a trial run to see they
are in working order. If there are any frost-bitten combs apply
a little camphorated oil gently rubbed in. Be sure that you do
not get your hatching eggs frozen by leaving them exposed too
Vaseline applied to the combs and wattles
of roosters (and hens) with large combs, can help protect against
frostbite in freezing weather - and will soothe frostbitten areas
if any does occur.