Book of the Week: Happy Thanksgiving!

View Full Size ImageHappy Thanksgiving! We wanted to celebrate the holiday with an appropriate item from our collection. What did we find? Five Hundred Questions and Answers! On Poultry Raising (1899), by James Wallace Darrow. It features everything you could possibly need to know about raising poultry, with categories structured around feeding and care, diseases, eggs, poultry buildings, incubators, and, as you might expect, an entire chapter devoted to turkeys, ducks and geese! For our post, in case you’re considering raising your own turkey for next year, we thought we’d share some of our favorite tidbits of information from the book. Have a lovely, relaxing holiday and enjoy our holiday-themed Book of the Week!

Feeding and Care:

Onions and Eggs: “My fowls love onions, but it is said that onions give the eggs an onion flavor? Do they?”

“No; onions do not affect the flavor of the eggs. Onions have been fed for weeks at a time along with other food, with no taint perceptible in the eggs. It would be just as reasonable to say that chicks hatched from eggs laid by onion eating hens would smell and taste of onion!”


1) Apoplexy: “I have lost some chickens that acted as though they had a spasm. On examining them [I] found the skin had turned a dark red. They were taken suddenly, and tried to stand on their heads. I feed a warm feed in the morning, oats at noon, corn at night. What is it?”

“This was probably apoplexy – a sudden rush of blood to the head, and a rupture of a blood vessel there. The remedy is prevention. You have probably been overfeeding, and should give only two meals per day. Reduce the grain feed and give steamed clover or some such bulky feed instead. Above all make them work for their food by obliging them to scratch it up. Exercise is one of the best preventives of disease.”


Should Eggs Rest: “Does it injure eggs to ship them long distances, and how long should they rest before being put in incubators?”

“There is a foolish notion prevailing among some fowl breeders, that eggs which have been shipped a distance should rest a day or two before being placed in an incubator. As soon as the hens are ready to set, or the incubator ready for work, place the eggs under or in at once; they will rest as comfortably in either place as elsewhere, in fact, better; for everybody knows that the fresher the eggs the more chicks they will yield, and the healthier the chicks.”

Poultry Houses:

The Best Poultry House: “Which is the best plan for a poultry house?”

“A poultry house is like a dwelling house – no two persons will agree. Much depends on climate, lay of the land, soil, etc. The most potent factor is the ‘pocket-book,’ as no matter what the plan may be, it must correspond with the contemplated cost. Hence, we can only reply that there is no best poultry house.”
Incubators and Broiler Raising:

Handling: “Does it do harm to handle the eggs, such as testing them, or changing them from one machine to another after they have been in the incubator for three days?”

“No. Not if they are handled carefully and not exposed to cold air too long. In testing eggs in a cool room it is well to warm a couple of blankets folded to be a little larger than the egg tray. Cover the untested eggs with one warm blanket and spread the other over another tray and slip the eggs under as fast as tested. In this way chilling the eggs can be avoided.”


Highest Egg Record: “Please give me the highest egg record for a hen in one year?”

“In England 280 is claimed, but we have no records, and cannot state. Be satisfied with 150 or even 100.”


Fattening Turkeys: “State the best feed to fatten turkeys.”

“To fatten turkeys give them their accustomed range and all the cooked corn, meal and potatoes they will eat up clean twice a day; plenty of grain at night and milk to drink at all times. Mix a little pulverized charcoal in the food once a day. Three weeks of this feeding and your turkeys will be in the best possible condition for the table; that is, if they have been growing and in good condition from the start. Remember that no amount of stuffing for a few weeks just before killing will make a prime, extra-large, table or market bird out of a turkey that has been starved and stunted.”

Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

(Image comes from: Bilder-atlas zur Wissenschaftlich-populären Naturgeschichte der Vögel in ihren sämmtlichen Hauptformen (1864), fig. 233)

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