“Yes, they’re great summer layers, but the American birds will beat them hollow in winter; and I must have as steady a supply of eggs as possible. My customers don’t stop eating eggs in winter, and they’ll be willing to pay more for them at that season. The Leghorn is too small to make a good broiler, and as half the chicks come cockerels, we must look out for that.”
“Why do you throw down the Plymouth Rocks? They’re bigger than ’dottes, and just as good layers.”
“I threw down the barred Plymouth Rocks on account of color; I like white hens best. It was hard to decide between White Rocks and Wyandottes, for there’s mighty little difference between them as all-around hens. I really think I chose the ’dottes because the first reply to my letters was from a man who was breeding them.”
“They are ‘beauts,’ all of them, and I’ll give them a good chance to spread themselves,” said Sam.
“What percentage of hatch may we expect from purchased eggs?”
“About sixty chicks out of every hundred eggs, I reckon.”
“That would be doing pretty well, wouldn’t it? If we had good luck with the sixty chicks, how many would grow up?”
“Fifty ought to.”
“Of these fifty, can we count on twenty-five pullets?”
“That’s what I was getting at. You think we might, by good luck, raise twenty-five pullets from each hundred eggs. I’ll cut that in the middle and be satisfied with twelve, or even with ten. At that rate the two thousand eggs that cost $200 will give me two hundred pullets to begin the egg-making next November. That’s not enough; we ought to raise just twice that number. I’ll spend as much more on eggs to be hatched by the middle of April or the first of May, and then we can reasonably expect to go into next winter with four hundred pullets. They will cost the farm a dollar apiece, but the farm will have four hundred cockerels to sell at fifty cents each, which will materially reduce the cost.”
“I think you put that pretty low, sir; we ought to raise more than four hundred pullets out of four thousand eggs.”
“Everything more will be clear gain. I shall be satisfied with four hundred. We must also get at the brooder house. This is the order in which I want the buildings to stand in the chicken lot: first, the incubating house, 10 feet from the south line; 40 feet north of this, the brooder house; and 120 feet north of that, the first hen-house, with runs 100 feet deep. We’ll build other houses for the birds as we need them. They are all to face to the south. If the brooder house is 50 feet long and 15 feet wide, it can easily care for the eight hundred chicks, and for half as many more, if we are lucky enough to get them.
“We’ll have a five-foot walk against the north wall of this house, and a ten-foot space north and south through the centre for heating plant and food. This will leave a space at each side ten by twenty feet, to be cut into five pens four feet by ten, each of which will mother a hundred chicks or more. There must be plenty of glass in the south wall, and we’ll use overhead water pipes in each hover.