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PROFITABLE POULTRY CULTURE.

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PROFITABLE POULTRY CULTURE. BY RALPH R ALLEN, Lecturer to the Herts County Council; Editor of Monthly Hints on Poultry, &c. (All rights reserved.) A SUCCESSFUL BREEDING SEASON. I (CONTINUED.) [Readers are particularly requested to note that this series of articles commenced with the first, issue in January. In order to obtain their full value, the earlier articles should be read in conjunction with the current one.] FERTILITY AS THE SEASON IJ ADVANCES. It is generally an accepted theory that after a hen has laid a fair number of eggs, the percentage of fertility is greatly reduced, the reason assigned being that the male bird is no longer sufficiently vigorous, or in other words the introduction of a fresh cockerel will remedy the wrong. Here I venture to disagree, and although I have not personally conducted enough experiments at present, I hope at the end of this season to be able to t hrow more light on the subject. My theory is that the decreased fertility is entirely due to the hen it must be borne in mind that our present races of domestic fowls have been radically changed from their natural condition by the artificiality of man, .and that generations back it would have been the hen's vocation to lay a few eggs simply to perpetuate its species. To-day we have the 200-egg strain bird, due to scientific breeding, careful housing, attention to diet, etc. This has been accomplished by man, but I doubt whether he can alter her productive organs in the same ratio. I am not speaking theoretically only. but from .actual experiment. A pen of birds com- menced to lay, fertility was excellent, but in the course of about three months began to rapidly decline. Bear in mind the eggs were still impregnated, but the germ was too weak to hatch, and "dead in shell" increased until, with the hen that first laid, it reached 100 per cent. Now was the time to test my theory, were the hens or the cockerel at fault ? Three hens were removed and given to a fifteen month, unmated cock, and three hens, just commencing to lay, substituted in their place; the supposedly impotent cockerel 1ertilised over 80 per cent of their eggs, while dead in shell and infertility were the only results from the new mating. My opinion has been further strengthened by reading in Poultry last season, like results to a similar series of experiment; unfortunately I have not the paper by me as I write, but it revived my former impres- sions and determined me to conduct farther tests this year. FINAL SELECTION OF BREEDING I PENS. If attention has been given to the fore- going, and its contents thoroughly digested, you are now in a position to mate up your pens, either by selection from your own stock, or to acquire what is necessary by purchase, or both. Some there will be who will now recognise that poultry-farming is not such easy going as they anticipated, and with the increased feeling of responsibility there may be a corresponding diminution of confidence; to them I say, deal only with those who have a reputation to maintain, or seek the assistance of one with experience and in whose integrity you have trust. Do not assert a knowledge you do not possess, it makes the unscrupulous take Advantage of you, and it is far better to pay a small fee for expert services than to make an initial mistake which cannot be rectified before next season, and then only by pecuniary sacrifice, as well as loss of time, temper, and dignity. HEREDITY. I The law of heredity is as pronounced with the feathered tribe as with us if anything, it is more noticeable, as frequently special characteristics may be absent for one or two generations to reappear in the third or fourth; with human beings a generation averages a period of thirty years. One is therefore apt to lose sight of the peculiar trait, disease, or whatever it may be on the other hand, with our fowls a generation is only twelve months, and should a characteristic be omitted for one or two years, the intervening period is not of sufficient duration to have obliterated our memory. (To be continued.) [Any enquiries concerning poultry- 1 keeping addressed to our expert, Ralph R Allen, Sawbridgeworth, Herts., will be answered through these columns free, but those requiring a postal answer direct or sending birds for post-mortem examination must remit a half-crown postal order.]

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