John C Bennett.

The poultry book : a treatise on breeding and general management of domestic fowls, with numerous original descriptions and portraits from life. online

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Online LibraryJohn C BennettThe poultry book : a treatise on breeding and general management of domestic fowls, with numerous original descriptions and portraits from life. → online text (page 5 of 23)
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imen of this breed, which I have denominated the Yankee
Game. This fowl was originally produced by a cross between
the Plymouth Rock and Indian Game hen. But a few only
have been produced from this mixture. I have since bred, and
shall continue to breed, this race, from the cock and hen de-
scribed in the preceding articles ; that is to say, frgm the Span-
ish cock of Mr. Stacey, and the Wild Indian hen of Mr. Estea.

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This variety combines the great strength and size of the
Wild Indian Game hen, and the sprightliness and beauty of the
Spanish Game, and thus partakes of the general characteristics
of the two best kinds of game fowl. For loftiness of carriage,
hauteur, compactness of form, healthiness, neatness, sprightli-
ness,^^ general beauty, this sort are unrivalled; and so far
as fine flesh and captivating appearance are concerned, they are
undoubtealy the best breed in America.

No other fowl with which I am acquainted is more desirable
to introduce into the poultry-yard for breeding purposes. If
associated with dijQferent varieties, the flesh of the offspring will
infallibly be improved, and the flavor of the eggs will become
more exquisite. Improvement in plumage and beauty of form
will also be a necessary consequence.


This portrait represents a fowl from the stock of A. V. Poin-
dexter, Esq., of Concord, N. H, formerly a breeder of reputa-
tion «t the South. These beautiful fowls are ** as black as a ra-
ven," had much more glossy ; in fact, their plumage is exceed-
ingly brilH^nt. They are perfectly black, feathers, legs, comb,
and all, (in d^^t, they have scarcely any comb or wattles,) ex-
cepting ticoasionally a few red feathers on the cocks. Heads;

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▼ery small ; tails, extremely large. They are a species of the
*' Game," and their flesh, therefore, is very fine and well fla*
vored. They are the best layers of all the " Grame Fowl,"
and their eggs are rich and savory. In size they are mediumi
and in form most S3rmmetrical. They may be claagad with the
most valuable fowls. The pure bloods are very rare. . I have
but few.

The fowl represented above is in my possession, and is a
great ^vorite, not only on account of its real worth, but of its
ornamental appearance. The weight is about the same as that
of the Spanish Game.

The following information, derived from Mr. Dickson's book,
may not be without practical use to those who have or esteem
other varieties of game fowls :

*' Sportsmen who breed game cocks for fighting have numer-
ous named varieties, such as piles, black-reds, silver-breasted
ducks, birchin ducks, dark grays, mealy grays, blacks, span-
gles, furnaces, pole-cats, cuckoos, gingers, duns, red duns,
smoky duns, among all of which, according to Sketchley, good
birds may be found ; but he thinks the following eight are supe-
rior to any others, namely, dark reds, dark black-breasted reds,
dark black-breasted birchin ducks, dark black-breasted berry
birchins, silver black-breasted duck-wing grays, clear mealy
grays, dark black-breasted grays, and red duns.

The Mealy Gray, which may be ranked next in value to the
true dark gray, originated from the black and mealy white, and
has been the produce selected from those whose feathers were
nearest to the mealy white, slightly tinged and shaded with
black. These have been bred in and in, and established the
mealy gray ; and from those of darker varieties have nearly all
our grays originated. The hen's color will, in general, pre-
vail wonderfully more than the cock's.

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The Tame Birchin Black-breast«d Duck has been orig-
inally bred from the black-breasted red, the yellow birchin, and
the gray duck-wing hens. The feather of the birchin duck is
a gray hackle, tinged with black above and black beneath, the
ground yellow, with a general shade of the dark birchin
through, and clear black-breasted, with yellow legs and beak.
No cocks exhibit a longer period of unfaded health than the
true black-breasted birchin ducks, and their reputation stands
high in the opinion of sportsmen.

The Piles have originated from a variety of crosses, which
have constituted the many shades we find in this numerous
class. There is a strain in these cocks which eminently distin-
guishes them.

The sorts which Sketchley mentions as inferior, most prob-
ably from injudicious crossing, are, the pheasant-breasted red,
the large spot-breasted red, tlie blotch-breasted red, the turkey-
breasted gray, the large marble-breasted gray, the large spot-
breasted gray, the shady-breasted birchin duck, the streaky-
breasted birchin duck, and the marble-breasted birchin duck.

Among the list of imperfections, he enumerates *■ flat-sided
and then generally deep-keeled, short-legged, thin thighs,
crooked or indented breast, short thin neck, imperfect eye, duck
and short footed, and unhealthful.' "

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The fowls here represented are accurate likenesses from life,
from stock imported by John Giles, Esq., of Providence. This
stock was selected personally by Mr. Giles, in the town of
Dorking, in Surrey, England, and are undeniably the best
specimens of that breed ever imported into this country. Their
color is a perfect white, without any shade whatever. The
legs are white, and they have five toes, which marks are inva-
riable characteristics of a pure breed. These particular fowls
are now in the possession of Mr. Stephen Perkins, of Plym-
outh, who has the reputation of being a very careful breeder.
Mr. Giles says that fowls of this breed average from six to
eight pounds each.

Dr. Eben Wight, of Boston, imported some of the fowls in
the year 1839, and though he has since bred them ** in and in,"

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they have not degenerated, and his stock yet sustains an excel-
lent reputation.

L. F. Allen says, in the American Agriculturist, " The
Dorking is a fine large bird, weighing, when at maturity, five
to eight pounds. They are large-bodied, and of better propor-
tions, according to their size, than any breed I have yet seen ;
their bodies being very long, full, and well fleshed in the breast
and other valuable parts. They are short-legged, thickly feath-
ered, with fine delicate heads, both double and single combs,
and a shining, beautiful plumage. The color of their legs is
white, or flesh-colored, having five instead of four toes, the
fifUi being apparently superfluous, and rising like a spur from
the same root as the heel toe in the common vBrieties. This
is a distinguishing mark of the variety. They are most excel-
lent layers, good and steady sitters, and kind, careful nurses.
They are the capon fowl of England, and are bred in great
quantities for the luxurious tables of the wealthy classes in
the counties about London."

Specimens of this variety have also been imported by Messrs.
A. B, Allen, of Bufialo, F. Rotch, of Otsego, and Chapman,
of New York.

Mr. Allen, of Buffiilo, was the first importer of the Speckled
Dorking, this and the White being the only pure varieties in
the country ; the others are hybrids, but nevertheless of excel-
lent quality. These latter varieties are usually denominated
improved Dorkings, and sometimes the Stissex breed ; and they
are considered by many an improvement on the original Dork-
ing ; but, in my opinion, they are not equal to the pure White
Dorking of the Giles importation, especially in regard to fine-
ness of flesh. They are usually, however, a larger and heavier

The hybrids above referred to will now be described.

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This is really a misnomer, the fowl commonly bearing this
name being a cross between the White Dorking and the Fawn-
colored Turkish fowl. The original imported hen, from which
this cross was made, is in possession of Pierce B. Fagen, M.
D., of Fort des Moines, Iowa. ^Though there has been some
variation heretofore in the plumage; and the color of the leg,
and the absence of the fifth toe, I shall hereafter breed them
with uniform plumage, white legs, and five toes.

They are of lofty carriage, handsome and healthy. The
males of this breed weigh from eight to nine pounds, and the
females from six to seven pounds, and they come to maturity
early for so large a fowl. Their tails are shorter than other
Dorkings. Their flesh is fine, and their eggs rich, and darker
than those of other Dorkings. From the latter part of Febru-
ary to about the 20th of June, my Fawn-colored Dorking hen
laid 118 eggs, missing only three days in the time.

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I regard this as one of the hest varieties of fowls known, as
the size is increased without diminishing the fineness of the
flesh. The portrait is taken from a pullet of this year, in pos-
session of Mr. Perkins, of Plymouth. This bird weighs hve
pounds and twelve ounces.

Other varieties are called Dappled, Mottled, Cuckoo-colored,
and the Pearl White, which variety was produced by Mr.
William Gooding and John Washburn, of Plymouth.

The Black Doiking is thus described by Mr. N. C. Day, of
Lunenburg, Mass., but undoubtedly the appellation is a mis-
nomer :

" The Black Dorkings were brought to this town a few-
years ago, by a young man, who presented them to his friends
living in this place. The person who brought them is now in
California ; but he stated to me that ' they came from Philadel-
phia,' and I have no doubt of the fact, as I have never seen or
heard of any in New England. The family who have kept
them here have valued them very high, and would rather kill
them than sell them at a reasonable price ; and the neighbors
were not very anxious to obtain them, saying that they were
* too large a breed.' The family above referred to have since
broken up housekeeping and removed from town, and I have
purchased their entire stock, and also every one in the neigh-
borhood of this breed that is of pure blood ; and from one year's
experience with them, I find their qualities as follows, as nearly
as I am able to describe them : — Their bodies are of a large
size, with the usual proportions of the race, and of a jet black
color. The neck-feathers of some of the cocks are tinged with
a bright gold color, and those of some of the hens bear a silvery
complexion. Their combs are usually double, and very short,
though sometimes cupped, rosed, or single, with wattles small,

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and they are usually very red about the head. Their tails are
rather shorter and broader than most others of the race, and
they feather rather slowly. Their legs are short and black,
with fiye toes on each foot, the bottom of which is sometimes
yellow. The two back toes are very distinct, starting from
the foot separately, and there is frequentli/ a part of an extra
toe between the two. This breed commence laying when very
young, and are the greatest layers, during winter, I ever had.
Their eggs are of a large size, and hatch well ; they are per-
fectly hardy, as their color indicates, and for the product I con-
sider them among the most valuable of the Dorking race."

It should be remembered that all pure Dorkings are com-
pactly formed, and have rose combs, long tails, white legs,
and five toes upon each foot ; and even the hybrids, when per-
fected, have these uniform characteristics : but it by no means
follows that every five-toed fowl is a Dorking. Many, and I
believe most, that are sold as Dorkings, are spurious, and a
disgrace to tl Dorking race.

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This plate contains portraits of fowls from a brood raised by
G. P. Bumham, Esq., of Roxbury, hatched last April. I have
given this name to a very extra breed of fowls, which I pro-
duced by crossing a cockerel of Baylies' importation of Cochin
China with a hen, a cross between the Fawn-colored Dorking,
the Great Malay, and the Wild Indian. Her weight is six
pounds and seven ounces. The Plymouth Rock Fowl, then,
is, in reality, one half Cochin China, one fourth Favra-colored
Dorking, one eighth Great Malay, and one eighth Wild Indian ;
having five primitive bloods, Shanghae, Malay, Grame, Turk-
ish, and Indian, traceable by referring to the history of those
breeds and their crosses respectively. There are several of
this breed in Plymouth, from my original stock, belonging
to Messrs. John H. Harlow, Samuel ShaWyWid myself,
that are now a little over one year old ; the cockerels meas-
ure from thirty-two to thirty-five inches . high, and weigh
about ten pounds, and the pullets from six and a half to seven
pounds each ; forming, in my opinion, the best cross that has
ever been produced. The pullets commenced laying when five
months old, proving themselves very superior layers. Their
eggs are of a medium size, rich, and reddish-yellow in color.
Their plumage is rich and variegated ; the cocks, usually red
or speckled, and the pullets darkish brown. They are very fine
fleshed, and early fit for the table. Their legs are^very large,
and usually blue or green, but occasionally yellow or white,
generally having five toes upon each foot. Some have their
legs feathered, but this is not usual. They have large and
single combs and wattles, large cheeks, rather short tails, and
small wings in proportion to their bodies. They are domestic,
and not so destructive to gardens as smaller fowls. There is
the same uniformity in size and general appearance, at the

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same age of the chickens, as in those of the pure bloods of pri-
mary races. The demand for this breed has exceeded all oth-
ers, during this season, and they have been sent into most of
the New England States and Western New York.

Mr. Bumham, in a communication to the Massachusetts
Plouglimarij thus describes his fowls, and bears his valuable
testimony to the excellence of the breed :

" The cock here represented weighs nine pounds and a quar-
ter, and the two pullets thirteen pounds. The stock came from
Dr. Bennett, and I am daily more and more pleased with this
fine species. I have the ' Plymouth Rocks ' at all ag^s, now
— from a few days, up to about eight months old ; and my
specimens embrace five or six different broods. The color of
all of them is peculiarly uniform, and I am satisfied that the
variety (or breed) is now well established. The body plumage
on the pullets is a rich deep brown, speckled witii golden-tipt
feathers ; the under down is black, (or a deep blue-black,) and
the tail is brown, black and gold.

The legs of the pullets are very dark colored, and one half
of them, or more, are five toed ; but some of them do not come
so. The comb is single, and the wattles thin and small. The
head and neck are well formed, the legs ate shorter than the
average of fowls, and the hens are not only deep and broad-
chested, but the bodies are proportionally very long — as you
will observe in the drawing.

The roosters are noble birds — among the finest I have
ever met with. I have two well-grown crowers, very similar in
their appearance, carriage, color, size and general points ; the
above isra true and life-like drawing of the male birds, which,
for their age, will compare favorably — so far as my experi-
ence goes — with any known breed of domestic fowl.

I am satisfied that the Plymouth Rock fowl, carefully bred,
will become a most valuable one to the poulterer or the agri-

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eulturist ; and I believe that a pair of the specimens shown in
the accompanying engraving will weigh, at laying time next
spring, full eighteen pounds — perhaps more. I deem this
ample, for size; and with the other good qualities of these
fowls, which I have already tested, — for laying, quietness,
easy keeping, and general hardiness, — I think these must
cause them to rank among the very best in our country, event-

The plumage of the roosters is dark red hackles, on neck
and rump ; the legs are bright yellow, slightly feathered ; the
body, dark red and green, relieved with stray feathers of a
golden tint ; and the under portion of the body and breast is a
rich, deep, glossy blue-black — partaking of the plumage of the
Wild Indian fowl, the original cross. The iAil-plumes on the
above crower are not grown out, as yet, of course, nor does
he yet show any spur ; but he is pictured exactly as he is at
this time, afler his first moult. When in full plumage, the tail-
feathers are heavy, and give the male bird not only a much
larger proportionate appearance, but very greatly improve his
form." .

In the Massachusetts Ploughman, also, there is a communica-
tion from Mr. John A. Harris, of South Boston, concerning
the laying of this breed, which is here subjoined.

''South Boston, Nov. 27th, 1849.
Dear Sir: — In answer to your inquiry respecting the
Plymouth Rock fowls, I will make the following statement :
Sept. 7th, I received of Dr. Bennett two hens, one year old, and
one cockerel, four months old. One of the hens laid, the next
day ; and in five weeks laid thirty eggs. She then stopped
laying till Nov. 18th, when she commenced again. The
other hen began to lay Sept. 22d, and in twenty-four days laid
tw&aiy eggs. She then (Oct. 15) stopped laying, but began

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to lay again on the 3d Not., and both hens continue to lay —
averaging about six eggs per week. About once a week, each
hen lays an egg of very large size. I have twelve other hens,
of common kinds, from which I have had fifty-three eggs ;
while, in the same time, the two Plymouth Rock hens laid
seventy-seven, Oct. 12th, I weighed three lots of eggs, as fol-
lows, namely : —

Six Plymouth Rock hen's eggs, largest size, nineteen and
a half ounces ; six Plymouth Rock hen's eggs, smallest, thirteen
and a half ounces ; six common hen's eggs, eleven and a half

The Pl3rmouth Rock fowls appear to be very quiet, and
of remarkably amiable disposition, and thus far I am much
pleased with them.

Yours, very respectfully,

John A. Harris."

Mr. John Giles, of Providence, in a letter dated " Sept. 19th,
1849," says — " The * Rocks' are a splendid bird, and if their
table qualities prove to be good, will make a valuable breed of
fowls." Again, in the same letter he says, — ''On more close
examination of the ' Rock' chick, I am more confirmed that
they must prove an invaluable breed. Could you not cross so
as to have one distinct color of leg and plumage ?"

In conformity with this suggestion, I shall endeavor here-
after to produce them with uniform plumage, preferring the
dark color, dark legs, and four toes only ; as I consider the fifth
toe objectionable, when it can be avoided.

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The fowls which are portrayed in this cut were obtained
from Dr. E. G. Kelly, of Newburyport, and are now in pos-
session of Mr. Joseph Rider, of Plymouth, for breeding. An
inspection of the engraving will show the extraordinary symme-
try of these birds ; and they are very graceful in their motions.
They have one very noticeable peculiarity, which consists in
the absence of a comb in either sex. This is replaced by an
indentation, on the top of the head ; and from the extreme end
of this, at the back, rises a small spike of feathers, as shown in
the picture. This adds greatly to the beauty of the fowl. The
presence of the male bird is especially dignified, not to say
majestic, and the female is little inferior in carriage. The

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plamage is of a beautiful black, tinged with blue, of very rich
appearance, and bearing a brilliant gloss. The legs are black,
and usually heavily feathered. The specimens represented
above are unusually so. The wattles are of good size in the
cock, -while those of the hen are slightly less. The flesh is fine,
of white color, and excellent flavor. The eggs are large and
delicate, — the shell is thicker than in those of other fowls, —
and are much prized for their good qualities.

This excellent breed has never been described, to my knowl-
edge ; and, as it appears below they have been some time in the
country, this fact is somewhat extraordinary. They possess all
the characteristics of a perfect breed, and in breeding them this
is demonstrated by the uniform aspect which is observable in
their descendants. No surer proof of the purity of a race can
be demanded. The only objection which I have discovered in
them is the tenderness of the chickens ; but with a degree of care
equal to their value, this difficulty can be surmounted, and they-
may be raised. In time to come, when this breed shall be better
known, they will be eagerly sought after, and highly appre-
ciated by all wjio have a taste for beauty, and who desire fine
flesh and luscious eggs.

I am indebted to Mr. H. L. Devereux, of Boston, for the
following account of the original importation of this breed, and
a description of those in his possession.

" The Guelderland fowls were imported from the north of
Holland, some years since, by Captain John Devereux, oi
Marblehead, in the ship Dromo ; and since that time have been
bred purely by him, at his place in that town. They are sup-
posed to have originated in the north of Holland. They are
clad in a beautiful blue-black plumage, but the flesh is white,
tender and juicy. They have no comb, but a small, indented,
hard, bony substance instead, and large red wattles. They are
of good size, great layers, seldom inclining to sit; bright.

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-active birds, and are not surpassed, in point of beauty or utility,
by any breed known in this country."

This description applies with great exactness to the fowls
engraved in this volume. Their weight is from five pounds
for the pullets, to seven pounds for the cocks. The laying
qualities of the hens are very respectable, and in this respect
they will prove profitable to their owners. It is safe to pro-
nounce the Guelderlands to be a first rate breed for profit, and
especially for beauty.


** This fowl," says Richardson, ** is clad in black plumage,
but possesses quite the reverse of black flesh. I regard these

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birds as the result of the highest possible artificial culture, and
adduce, in support of my opinion, their unusually large comb
and wattles, characteristics not commonly to be met with among
the primitiye varieties.


The Spanish fowl is, perhaps, a little inferior in size to the
old ' Shakebag,' but in every other quality, wherein excellence
and value are to be looked for, it is more than that bird's equal.
The color of the Spanish fowl is black, and the feathers of the
legs, thighs, and belly, are particularly decided in their hue,
and of a velvety aspect. It is a stately bird, and of a grave and
majestic deportment^ and is, in either utility or beauty, to be
surpassed by none of its congeners. One of the most striking
characteristics of this fowl is a white cheek, and the comb and
wattles are singularly large, simple, and of a very high color.
The feet and legs are of a leaden color, except the soles of the
feet, which ate of a dirty fleshy hue. This is a fowl well de-

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serving the attention of the breeder. They have long been
naturalized m England, and are consequently well < cUmatized,*
and present no peculiarities of constitution that would suggest
difficulties in either hatching or rearing. As table birds they
hold a place in the very first rank, their flesb being particu-
larly white, tender, and juicy, and the skin possessing that
beautifully clear white hue, so essential a requisite for birds
designed for the consumption of the gourmand. The hens are
likewise layers of the first order ; and of all naturalized or
indigenous varieties of fowl, with the exception of the Colum-
bian, these lay the largest and the best-flavored eggs. They
are, besides, prolific, extremely easily fed, and, in short, I
know of no fowl I would rather recommend to the notice of the
breeder ; but let me here observe, that spurious specimens of

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Online LibraryJohn C BennettThe poultry book : a treatise on breeding and general management of domestic fowls, with numerous original descriptions and portraits from life. → online text (page 5 of 23)