If one is seriously considering the establishment of a special poultry business, it will be well for him to study the various sections of the country in order to determine just which offers best opportunities for poultry raising. Unquestionably, the great bulk of poultry and eggs is produced in the grain states of the middle West -- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and states north and south bordering upon them. In this section, it will not be advisable to go into special lines of poultry raising with the hope of securing advanced prices in the market. None of the cities in these states pays a high enough premium above ordinary current rates to warrant investment in special lines.
To reach special markets the poultryman should select some of the eastern states. Because of special advantages of soil and transportation, as well as climate, New Jersey, the Chesapeake Peninsula and eastern Virginia offer opportunities unequaled by other sections of the East, so if a poultryman wishes to go in for a special line such as egg production, broilers, capons or green ducks, he will do well to select a farm in the districts mentioned.
In deciding upon any location in this territory, it will be well to determine beforehand the cost of freights, not only on the finished product, but upon the grain and other material that must be purchased for the fowls. On this account, probably, eastern Virginia will be better than sections in southern New Jersey because of the lower freight rate on grain from the West, and because of the through traffic from Norfolk, either by steamer or by rail, via the Chesapeake peninsula. The same remark will apply to the Chesapeake peninsula in a less degree; stations on the main line of railway being preferable to those on branches of the road, but there is no reason why in the territory under discussion, practically everything should not be raised on the farm or in the immediate locality. Indeed, it is highly desirable to make the farm produce everything that the poultry will need, in order to work over the crude products into the higher-grade materials, such as flesh and eggs. Delaware, Virginia, southern Maryland and southern New Jersey are admirably adapted for this kind of thing. Very mild climate also favors poultry raising because with only ordinary shelter the fowls can be housed throughout the year, and for almost all the year can secure a considerable amount of their feed at range. In eastern Virginia, there is scarcely a stretch of a full week throughout the year when the poultry cannot be out of doors. The same is true of the lower part of the Chesapeake peninsula and of coastal New Jersey.
System of watering. Pipe carries water to cups c, d, l; outlet at k. In cold weather cock is turned to drain system at k.
No matter where one locates, he should own the land and buildings upon which he works. He should never rent land or buildings, because when he wishes to move he would be at more or less expense or else be obliged to leave his buildings behind. Buildings are never improved by moving. It is better to buy five or ten acres at the start and to combine other branches of farming until the poultry pays sufficient by itself to warrant extension. Truck and berry growing go well with poultry; so do large fruits, but these, of course, require much longer time to reach profitable age.
The great majority of readers of this book are already situated on farms or in villages and will, therefore, be more interested in the solving of their own poultry problems, than in searching for new localities. They will want to know where best to place them so as to get the largest returns from their fowls. There is no question that some situations, soils, exposures, etc., please fowls better than others, and some which are more favorable to the poultryman as well on account of convenience, but nothing need prevent fowls from paying well in situations not ideal. Fowls can easily be managed just as other domestic animals are under even wide differences both of soil and climate.
Some breeds differ more than others in adaptability but the poultryman, as a rule, holds the key of the situation on farms and villages offering abundant opportunity for profitable poultry raising. One thing is essential, namely, to supply the needs of the fowls. No matter how local conditions may vary, these ends must be met. They may be met in different ways by different people, under different conditions. All depends upon the poultryman, who must study his fowls under his own conditions of climate, soil, etc., and adjust his management of the fowls to fit the case. Until he has found by experimentation what is best for his fowls, he should not make radical changes in management but should strive to keep fowls under what are considered normal methods of management.
The Soil Factor
Unquestionably a light soil with open subsoil is best adapted for poultry raising and a heavy soil least favorable. Doubtless many failures are due to mistakes in this respect. Rocky and untillable land is not economical, because the droppings cannot be used to produce green feed. Soils containing excessive alkali should also be avoided, because of the likelihood of damage to plumage and skin. On light soils the droppings are quickly deodorized and easily washed into the soil by rain where plants can utilize them, but on clay soils they form a hard crust which soon becomes foul.
In order to keep soils sweet, therefore, some green crop should be grown constantly on them, and yards should be large enough to allow of this practice. Alternate yards furnish the best method of arrangement for this result, except, of course, where fowls can have unlimited free range. It is highly desirable to have as large a part of the yards as possible in permanent grass, especially if there is a considerable amount of clover in the mixture. It is not desirable to select drift sand which will not grow anything, because the droppings will be lost and thus a source of income wasted.
Land worth $100 or more for dairying or grazing might be positively detrimental to poultry. The ordinary loamy soil, if well drained, is, as a rule, excellent for poultry, because it usually contains sufficient plant food to produce good crops. The natural lay of the land is of small consequence, as good results can be secured no matter which direction the land slopes, provided other factors are made favorable. The northern slope, of course, is not as desirable as a southern one, but where one has a northern and not a southern slope he must make the best of it. One way to do this is to protect the houses and yards by windbreaks. It is not desirable to have poultry run in timber land, because the droppings all go to waste. Orchards and plantations of raspberries, currants, gooseberries, etc., are far better, because the manure can be utilized in the fruit production and the trees and bushes made to furnish shade. Crops can also be grown between the trees and bushes and thus the fowls supplied with green food.
Side hill poultry house. Figure 1. Slope, dotted line indicates excavation. Figure 2. A. Excavated part filled in at B. Figure 3. House showing slope of surface above and below.
Always the site on which a poultry house or yard is located should be thoroughly well drained, either naturally or artificially. The water should flow away from the building, preferably through, not over, the land. There should not be standing water anywhere around the poultry yard, because this is sure to become a source of pollution. The operator is sure to have difficulty in working if the drainage is not good. At all times and seasons the poultry house should be thoroughly dry. It is not necessary in order to secure drainage to select a hill or mound, nor is it undesirable to locate in a hollow, provided the drainage is good. Preference, however, should be given to the higher sites, because of the likelihood of better drainage and warmer temperature. Cold air, it is well known, sinks into low pockets.
It is highly desirable that as much sunlight be secured as possible. For this reason it is best to give preference to a southern or southeastern slope, so that especially during the winter the house will receive the sun's rays without check. In order to raise the temperature also, the northern and western sides should be protected by some sort of windbreak, either by trees or buildings. About the worst kind of place for a poultry house is on the northern side of a barn or obstruction which shuts out the sunlight and which permits the cold northern and western winds to enter without check. Good results cannot be expected in such houses, no matter how well built. Where no other situation is available however, fowls should not be kept for any other than family purposes and should always be replaced yearly with new fowls, because the older ones quickly deteriorate and their off-spring make inferior growth.
Water pail support.
Convenience of Water Supply
Where one plans growing poultry on an extensive scale he should provide some means for securing water without labor. Nothing is better than a running stream where such can be secured, but situations with brooks are rare. The next best thing is a device which supplies water by gravity from a spring or a brook higher up on the property. Without such a brook one or other of the systems illustrated elsewhere, will be found desirable, but where the supply of water is limited a device like that used in flush tanks, in which the inflow is regulated by a check valve and float, will be found better than the style which flows continuously. It is not necessary to go into the discussion of means to supply water; whether gasoline engine, hydraulic ram or windmill; the only point is to have some way whereby water can be supplied without daily cost of labor, time and money in carrying from pump to yard. While the initial cost of installation may seem large, yet the amount of money saved in the long run will usually more than offset the cost of installation.
Next: Chapter IV
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