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Poultry Feeding

( Originally Published 1915 )

Both Boys and Girls Interested in Poultry.-The subject of the feeding of poultry is one in which the girls should be as much, if not more, interested than are the boys. The teacher should aim to send the pupils home, especially in the spring time, with hearts filled with a desire to help poor, tired, worried mother, who generally has the care of the poultry and who only too often lacks the cooperation of the children after they begin school. In Smith's chapter on " Poultry " we find, " Feed should not be given little chickens within 24 hours from time of hatching. Some poultrymen do not feed for 72 hours. The reason for this is, of course, that nature has provided a means of subsistence for the young chick until he has strength to help himself, by causing the absorption . . . into the abdomen of a portion of the egg designed for that purpose."

Give Little Chicks Mixed Feeds.—There are upon the market a number of mixed grain feeds which, if supplemented with milk and a little meat scrap, make a very good ration for little chickens. H. R. Lewis in " Productive Poultry Husbandry " says : " The feeding of the chicks is one of the most important factors in poultry keeping, and successful nutrition should be-gin with hatching and extend throughout the growing period. The first four weeks are the most trying, for this period covers the delicate stage of the chick's growth, and is the time when the death-rate is the greatest. . . . It is undesirable to force the chick to eat within a period of from forty-eight to sixty hours after hatching. The best practice is to supply plenty of water and fine grit when putting chicks in the brooder, withholding all solid feed for at least the first twelve hours in the brooder. A good plan is to give the chicks their first feed the morning after they are placed in the brooder."

It is unsafe to depend too much upon calculated standards, but the standards are guides that give us the flock's probable needs and are to be changed as the conditions of the chicks make necessary.

Rations for Laying Hens.—At the North American egg - laying contest, five hens were kept in each house. Each hen ate all that she cared to. The feed was fed two ways, one in the form of a dry mash which was placed in a crock with wire mesh over it so that the hens could not get on to it with their dirty feet. The other was a scratch feed, fed from an automatic feeder (Fig. 35). The two mixtures were as follows:

Dry mash

200 pounds wheat bran.
100 pounds cornmeal.
100 pounds gluten feed.
100 pounds ground oats.
75 pounds middlings.
30 pounds fish scrap.
30 pounds beef scrap.
28 pounds low-grade flour.

Scratch feed
60 pounds cracked corn.
60 pounds wheat.
40 pounds plump oats.
20 pounds barley.
10 pounds kafir corn.
10 pounds buckwheat.
10 pounds coarse beef scrap.

The coarse beef scrap was made by sifting the ordinary beef scrap and putting the finest into the dry mash and saving the coarser for the scratch feed. All of the feeds were thoroughly mixed and fed once a week. From this feed they got an average of one hundred and seventy eggs from each of five hundred hens. The average per hen for the United States is about eighty eggs per year. It is not claimed that this is an economical feed. Some boy or some girl in the clubs is to show us how to get as many eggs on a more economical feed.

A Ration for One Hundred Hens.—A young lady in normal training at Humboldt College figured the following as the cheapest balanced ration which she could find for one hundred laying hens. If supplemented with plenty of grit and a little ensilage, alfalfa leaves or pasture it would seem to be a splendid standard. She found that one hundred standard sized Plymouth Rock hens would clean it up each day.

Digestible dry mattcr Protein Carbohydrates Cost

Wheat, 8 pounds 7.16 .70 5.66 $.15

Corn, 15 pounds 12.75 1.01 10.83 .15

Oats, 4 pounds 3.58 .43 2,35 .06

Milk, 30 pounds 2.82 .87 1.77 .06

Meat scraps,1 1/2 pounds 1.34 .90 .47 .03

27.65 3.91 21.08 $.45

Uses of the Table.—This table is useful in a number of ways. It forms a standard by which we may measure what we are feeding. It gives us some idea of what it costs to keep one hundred hens up to full laying capacity. But the greatest value came from the growth of the young lady while she was making the table, measuring the feeds, and seeing whether the hens would clean up that much. So the teacher must remember that, educationally, the most valuable work with the feed tables will not be the getting of standards but the giving to the boys and the girls a working knowledge of how to get standards for themselves.

How Do We Make the Tables?—The texts on agriculture and the standard books and bulletins on feeding give feeding standards which have been found by hundreds of experiments to be the need of a given number of pounds of the different animals during each twenty-four hours. Then they have the digestible ingredients of the different feeds, which ingredients are generally given in percentages. We start with the amounts that some practical farmer or feeder near us is feeding, and from the tables we figure what his animals are getting from those amounts. We add these together, and if they come very near our standard we are satisfied. If they do not give us nearly enough or are in excess, we increase or lower the amount until we get a ration near our standard.

How to Learn to Make a Ration. Any bright young man or woman can take the feed tables with the instructions for using them, as found in the little text-books on elementary agriculture, such, for example, as Davis's, Goff and Mayne's, Burkett, Stevens and Hill's, Halligan's or Warren's, and by giving from two to four hours of close, concentrated effort, attain a fairly good working knowledge of how to use the tables. A ration should be verified by the practice of some farmer or feeder before it is given to the children to carry home as a standard. Notwithstanding the difficulties and uncertainties, the time has come when no boy or girl should be permitted to graduate from the eighth grade of our public schools unless he or she can work any ordinary problem with the feed tables so as to get a fairly close balanced ration for any given number of animals.

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