Going to the shows with your fowls helps to educate one in poultry. There is always some expert breeder at the shows that is glad to give information on how to mate or rear fowls and when you are there you get a chance to talk over your fowls with the poultry judge.
Remember good feed is essential to the rearing of good chicks and getting lots of eggs. In this day and age one can get any kind of chicken feed for any condition. If you want eggs, you must feed for eggs. If it is flesh you are after then you should feed accordingly. The present conditions of the feed market is staple and one can buy now more cheaply than they can later in the winter. There has been a splendid corn crop and all other kinds of grains have done well. By buying now one can save a lot of money. The hay crop is short in many sections of the country and it would be advisable for all of those who keep cows to put in their winter hay at this time. Good hay and good mixed cow feed will add lots of good milk and butter fat. Many old farmers say there is no better feed one can give his fowls than good milk, so see that your cow gets good attention along with good feed and you will have plenty of milk to give your backyard poultry flock.
Those living near the wheat fields can buy their winter litter very cheap at this season of the year. All the threshing is over and the straw is now in the field. It is more handy to use baled straw than that which comes loose. It takes more room to store the loose straw and much harder to cart from house to house when it is not baled.
To get back for a moment to feed. If you want the pullets to lay early, get some good high protein egg producer, feed plenty of mixed grain (scratch) and have lots of green food. In many parts of the country the lawn clippings can be had for the cutting. Cabbage, kale and lettuce all make good green food while mangels, carrots and other things that one can store for winter use also make good green food for the fowls. If you are unable to get the green food above named, get an oat sprouter or improvise one and get a part of your green food in that way. Be careful that your oats when sprouting do not show too much mold. Moldy feed of any kind is not good for fowls. It has a tendency to cause bowel trouble. Good sour milk will generally regulate the bowels so that your pullets will have little trouble.
I do not believe one can mix his feed as well as the millers and it pays to buy the ready mixed feeds when you know your brands. In many of the states the law forces the feed mixers to put the contents of their feed on the sack. Giving the ingredients along with the chemical value. When you can buy such feeds it will save you money as you cannot buy in quantities that would pay you to do your own mixing.
Cleanliness is essential in the poultry house. Cleaning the drop boards every morning will save a lot of hard work and give your fowls the pure air to breathe at night. Allowing the droppings to adhere to your drop boards makes a messy job. Sprinkle a good layer of sand over the drop boards each morning and you will find that the moisture in the droppings will be taken up by the sand and the whole can be easily raked off the boards into a box or vessel of some kind. Saving the droppings is worth while and no one can buy better fertilizer than hen manure.
Gather the eggs often is the way to have clean eggs. Where one trapnests they always have clean eggs. It is the many hens going with soiled feet to the nest that causes the dirty eggs. Clean eggs bring more money in market than those that are soiled. Keeping the drop boards clean, having a good place for the hens to scratch and dust along with clean litter will help to keep the feet of the hens clean.
Market your eggs often so as to always sell them fresh. The market pays the highest price for the egg that is first clean, second of good type and third of uniform color. Once make a reputation for fresh eggs and you will find a ready sale for all your hens can produce.
For the cold climates there has been invented a drinking fountain that has a small heater in the bottom. This makes very little heat but enough heat is made to keep the water from freezing. Hens consume a lot of water in the course of twelve hours. Eggs are more than half water so you can see that good fresh water is essential for egg production as well as the health of one’s fowls.
Keep plenty of dry mash before your fowls at all times. Get a good rat-proof hopper, one that you can shut up at night. Rats will run to any house where there is feed laying around. Rats prefer grain and mash feed to anything else. To once infest one’s houses with rats will cause a lot of trouble. A hungry rat will attack hens and they will destroy lots of young chicks. A good cat on the place will help to rid the houses of rats and if this cat is properly fed. I have always had dogs and cats with my poultry and never had one that as much as hurt a baby chick. The cat can be as well trained as any other animal.