While poultryman at the Kansas Experiment Station, the writer made a large number of individual weighings of fowls in the crates of one of the large fattening plants of the state.
These weighings pointed out very clearly why the expected profits had not been realized. The birds selected for weighing were all fine, uniform looking Barred Rock Cockerels. At the end of the first week they were found to still appear much the same, but when handled a difference was easily noticed. By the end of the second week a few birds had died and many others were in a bad way. The individual changes of weight ran from 2-1/2 pounds gain to 3/4 pound loss, and many of the lighter birds were of very poor appearance. It is simply a matter of forced feeding being a process that makes trouble with the health of the chicken if all is not just right.
It is probable that in the future more fattening will be done on the farm, or by the farmer operating in a small way among his neighbors. The reason for this is that the saving of labor in the large plant is hardly as great as the added loss from the shrinkage of the birds due to the excitement of shipping and crowding, and the introduction of disease by the mingling of chickens from so many different sources.
The Canadians especially have encouraged fattening on the farm. The following is a hand-bill gotten out by an enterprising Canadian dealer for distribution among the farmers of his locality:
HOW TO FATTEN CHICKENS FOR THE EXPORT TRADE.
To fatten birds for the export trade, it is necessary to have proper coops to put them in. These should be two feet long, twenty inches high and twenty inches deep, the top, bottom and front made of slats. This size will hold four birds, but the cheapest plan is to build the coops ten feet long and divide them into five sections.
What to feed.
Oats chopped fine, the coarse hulls sifted out, two parts; ground buckwheat, one part; mix with skim-milk to a good soft batter, and feed three times a day. Or, black barley and oats, two parts oats to one part barley. Give clean drinking water twice a day, grit twice a week, and charcoal once a week. During the first week the birds are in the coops they should be fed sparingly—only about one-half of what they will eat. After that gradually increase the amount until you find out just how much they will eat up clean each time. Never leave any food in the troughs, as it will sour and cause trouble. Mix the food always one feed ahead. Birds fed in this way will be ready for the export trade in from four to five weeks. Chickens make the best gain put in the coop weighing three to four pounds.
We Supply the Coops.
We have on hand a number of coops for fattening chicks,
which we will loan to any person, “free of charge”,
who will sign an agreement to bring all chicks fattened
in them to us. Every farmer should have at least
one of these coops, as this is the only way to fatten
chicks properly. In this way you can get the
highest market price. We can handle any quantity
of chicks properly fatted.