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Oats were seeded in three-gallon crocks, filled with a mixture of one part of sandy
loam topsoil and three parts of fine sand. These sand cultures were treated with
dried artificial manure and inorganic fertilizers as indicated in table 4. A few
days after the oats had germinated and when they were about three inches tall,
the plants grown on the heavier treatments of artificial manure made with Cyana-
mid began to show signs of toxicity which continued throughout the experiment,
both height and yield of oats being less on this treatment. Analysis showed a
greater percentage of nitrogen in the oats grown on manure made with Cyana-
mid than in those grown on manures made with ammonium sulfate, but this may
have been due to the abnormality of the injured oat plants. This apparent
toxicity should not be considered a serious objection to the use of Cyanamid, for
the oats were grown in sand cultures and when trials were made under field con-
ditions no such injurious effects were noticed. At the Geneva Station, Collison
and Conn* experienced similar results when they worked with sand cultures.

Table 4. — Pot Experiment with Artificial Manure.

Rate of Application Yields per Pot Nitrogen Content
per Acre of Oat Plants

Manure Made from — Manure Superphos- Height Dry Weight

Tons phatc of Oat of Oat Percent Grams

Pounds Plants Plants
Inches Grams

10* 500 9.0 3 93 .74 .0291

Corn stover with ammonium sulfate. . . "I 20 7.S0 9.0 4.22 .79 .0,?33

30 1,000 9.0 4.55 .84 .0382

10* 500 11.6 5.85 l.n .0649

Corn stover with Cyanamid -120 7.10 10.8 4.75 1.32 .0^27

30 1.000 9.7 4.55 1.^5 .0751

10* 500 110 6.91 .75 .0518

Straw with ammonium sulfate ■! 20 750 1 1.5 7.85 .77 .0605

30 1,000 14.0 8.66 .77 .0667

10* 500 12.5 T.07 .89 .0629

Straw with Cyanamid {20 750 10.5 5.87 1.13 .0663

30 1.000 10.0 6.05 1.14 .0690

Check— no manure None None 11.5 7.30 .84 .0613

*On bas;s of manure containing 0.5 percent nitrogen (N), that is, 100 pounds of N per acre, or
0.442 grams N per pot. The amount of dried artificial manure added to each pot was determined
by the actual N content of the respective artilicial manures.

Field Experiments with Artificial Manure

Field corn was planted on one hundredth acre plots, to which the different
artificial manures had been applied at the rates of 10, 20, and 30 tons per acre.
Yields were compared with yields from plots to which natural manure was applied
at equal rates. The growing corn on plots treated with 20 and 30 tons of manure
per acre was superior in growth and color to that on plots treated with 10 tons of
manure per acre. There was no great difference in yield of corn between plots

^Collison, R. C, and Conn, H. J. Artificial manure from straw. N. Y. State Agr. Expt. Sta.
Bui. 573. 1929.



treated with artificial manure and those treated with natural horse manure,
except on the plots receiving the 30-ton application, where the artificial manures
gave higher yields than the natural manure. (Table 5). It may be concluded
that the artificial manure as prepared here is comparable to and slightly better
than ordinary natural horse manure when used at high rates of application.

Table 5. — Yields of Corn Grown on Artificial Manure.

Manure Made trom

Kate of


per Acre


Yields per Acre — Pounds

Field Green Field Dry Field Dry

Weight of Weight of Weight of

Corn Whole Ear Stover

10* 16.023 3.620 4,135

Corn stover with ammonium sulfate. .. . "120 19,023 4,858 5,199

30 20,966 5,495 5,028

10* 15,614 3,225 4,261

Corn stover with Cyanamid -120 20,625 4,688 5,352

30 22,432 5,625 6,007

10* 17,386 3,876 4,763

Straw with ammonium suliate -j 20 21,239 5,154 5,206

30 24,307 6,989 6,221

10* 18,750 4,176 4,988

Straw with Cyanamid -j 20 21,921 5,414 5,666

30 22,261 6,136 6,096

10* 16,466 3.705 4,575

Natural Manure -120 17,898 4,176 5.574

30 18,170 4,261 5,318

4-8-4 Fertilizer 1,250 pounds 17,727 4,558 4,677

*On basis of manure containing 0.5 percent nitrogen (N), that is, 100 pounds of N per acre.
The amount of dried artificial manure added to each plot was determined by the actual N content
of the respective artificial manures.

Experiments with Artificial Manure as Top- Dressing

A one-year-old field of mixed grass was top-dressed with the prepared artificial
manures after the first crop of hay had been harvested The second crop of grass
was not harvested, but from observation looked much superior to that on the
surrounding untreated plots. The following year the hay contained a greater
percentage of clover than the crop from the untreated plots. The yields per
acre, on the dry basis, are listed in table 6.

Table 6. — Yield of Hay Grown on Plots with Artificial Manure

• Top Dressing

Manure made froni- Yield on Dry Basis

Corn stover with Pounds per Acre

Ammonium sulfate 5281

Cyanamid 5227

Oat straw with

Ammonium sulfate 4541

Cyanamid. ..." 5101

Leaves and garbage with

Cyanamid 6265

Untreated plot 3363


General Directions for the Preparation of Artificial Manures

Materials That May Be Used

Any non-woody plant material may be used in the preparation of artificial
manure, such as leaves, weeds, straw, corn stover, garden and cannery refuse,
lawn clippings, and even kitchen garbage if the greasy portions are disposed of
in some other manner.

The manure pile may be made outdoors. A shallow pit about a foot deep can
be used to advantage, but any level place will be satisfactory. Since the pile is
not attractive, it should be placed in some inconspicuous spot and should be pro-
tected from the wind.

Small-Scale Preparation

Home gardeners who are going to prepare artificial manure on a small scale
from the various refuse materials which they are able to collect throughout the
spring, summer, and fall seasons may find it more convenient to use a ready-
mixed commercial fertilizer. Any garden fertilizer, such as a 6-8-6 or 5-8-7 fertil-
izer, will be satisfactory and 100 pounds will be sufficient to make a pile of approx-
imately' 125 cubic feet, or a pile having dimensions of 5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet.
If higher grade fertilizers are used, the amount used should be proportional.

About 25 pounds of ground limestone can be used to advantage with each 100
pounds of fertilizer to produce a better end product and to insure against loss of
plant nutrients (nitrogen) during the process of decomposition.

The pile should be built in layers, with a few handfuls of the fertilizer scat-
tered on each new supply of organic material that is added. One or two shovel-
fuls of garden soil sprinkled on each layer will aid in inoculating the pile with the
necessary decomposition bacteria. If the organic material is dry, it should be
dampened with enough water to wet it well but not enough to leach out of the
bottom of the pile. If the materials are green, such as grass clippings, no water
need by added. During a dry season when rainfall is not sufficient to keep the
pile fairly moist, hand watering of the pile will be necessary to produce natural
decay. Shoveling the material from one pile to another two or three times during
the season will tend to hasten decay and give a better decomposition.

The artificial manure is ready for use when decomposition has stopped and
the plant material has lost its original structure or characteristics. Tree leaves^
used alone, usually take a longer time to decompose and may retain their general
outline, which, however, crumbles easily when handled.

Large-Scale Preparation

In general, the same procedure as outlined above is followed in the preparation
of larger quantities of manure. The method differs mainly in more economical
use of chemicals to aid the decomposition and in the fact that the whole pile is
usually built at one time.

The raw materials needed are: one ton of any of the organic materials previously
mentioned, 75 to 80 pounds of Cyanamid or ammonium sulfate or its equivalent
from any other source of readily available nitrogen, about 70 pounds of super-
phosphate (16 percent), 25 pounds of muriate of potash, and 75 to 80 pounds of
ground limestone. If Cyanamid is used as the source of nitrogen, no limestone
is required because Cyanamid contains a large amount of calcium. For general
work, the amounts do not have to be too exact. If smaller amounts of organic
material are used, the chemicals should be reduced proportionately.

It is desirable to start with enough raw material to make a pile 5 to 8 feet high
— about a ton of dry matter. The organic matter is piled and tramped in layers
either in a circular bed about 9 feet in diameter or in a 10-foot square. The


layers should not be over 6 inches thick. The chemicals are scattered over each
layer of organic material, and a shovelful or two of garden soil or barnyard manure
sprinkled on each layer as the pile is being built will serve as an inoculating
agent. Each layer of organic material should be sprinkled with water as it is
packed down by tramping. Care should be taken that not enough water is used
to leach out of the bottom of the pile. If the pile is built outdoors, the top may be
left flat so as to retain rain water instead of shedding it. If the pile bgins to
heat up greatly in two or three days, the temperature should be lowered by
sprinkling on more water, but not an excessive amount.

After four or five weeks, the whole pile should be forked over into another pile,
throwing the outside portion into the center of the new pile and adding more
water. The forking-over process is repeated once more at the end of about eight
weeks, and the pile is then allowed to stand until the organic material is decayed,
or until the heating stops. The product may then be used in the sam? manner
as stable manure.


Artificial manure was prepared from corn stover, mixed deciduous leaves, oat
straw, and mixed leaves and garbage, in order to study the method of preparation,
rate of decomposition, heat and moisture relationships, and volume and appear-
ance of the finished product. Chemical analyses were made of the various pro-
ducts and they were used .in both pot and field experiments.

Both chemical and vegetation tests showed that when Cyanamid or ammonium
sulfate was used in the preparation of manure from corn stover, oat straw, or
leaves and garbage, a finished product resembling well-rotted farmyard manure
was obtained. Leaves used alone decomposed to form artificial mmure very
slowly, while corn stover decomposed most rapidly.

Field tests showed that artificial manure can be used satisfactorily in growing
corn, and hay yields were increased considerably where it was applied.

Detailed general directions are given for both small- and large-scale preparation
of artificial manure.


Bulletin No. 396

September 1942

Breeding Rhode Island Reds
for Rapid Feathering

By F. A. Hays and Ruby Sanborn

Rapid chick feathering, particularly over the back region, is a very valuable
character in general purpose fowls. This study was carried on over a long period
to discover a reliable method for fixing this character in Rhode Island Reds.



By F. A. Hays and Ruby Sanborn


Rapid chick feathering is considered to be a very valuable character in flocks
bred for high egg production. Cockerels sold for broiler purposes command a
significantly higher price if they exhibit complete feathering. Rapid feathering
is also thought to offer some protection against feather pulling and cannibalism
during the early growing period. During the last two decades poultry breeders
have given much attention to fixing this trait in the general purpose breeds

The fact has long been known that such breeds as Rhode Island Reds, Ply-
mouth Rocks, Wyandottes, and Orpingtons show a sex-dimorphism in the rate
of feathering. Females of these breeds usually develop complete feather cover-
ing at an earlier age than males. Saharova (1926) called attention to sex differ-
ences in the rate of feathering of the general purpose breeds, to the slow feather-
ing in the Asiatic breeds, and to the rapid feathering in the Mediterranean breeds.
He indicated that the dimorphic type of feathering was dominant over rapid
feathering, was not sex-linked but was partly sex-limited. Danforth (1929)
crossed White Leghorns, Barred Plymouth Rocks, and Rhode Island Reds and
grafted skin from one breed to another. He concluded that there are two factors
producing slow feathering. One of these factors is sex-linked and occurs in Rhode
Island Reds. A second factor produces an inhibitory effect through the soma.
Both the sex-linked and the inhibitory factor occur in Barred Plymouth Rocks.

Warren (1925) reported on the mode of inheritance of a single sex-linked re-
cessive gene for rapid chick feathering in White Leghorns when crossed with
Jersey Black Giants. Kinugawa (1927) reported the existence of a sex-linked
recessive gene for rapid chick feathering in Leghorns, Hamburgs, Minorcas, and

Considerable attention has been given by a number of investigators to the
relation of rate of chick feathering to other important characters in laying flocks.

Martin (1929) studied the rate of chick feathering in both exhibition and pro-
duction-bred Barred Plymouth Rocks. He noted that the rate of feather de-
velopment over the back was closely related to rate of growth, the heavier chicks
feathering the more rapidly. Barring was superior in the slow-feathering and
slow-growing chicks. No linkage was found between genes for rate of back
feathering and the gene M for winter pause or either sex-linked gene E or auto-
somal gene E' for early sexual maturity.

Gericke and Piatt (1932) investigated the effect of varying amounts of protein
in the ration on feather growth in Barred Plymouth Rock chicks from hatching
to 8 weeks of age. Their data indicated that higher levels of protein increased
the rate of feather growth. These workers noted further that the growth of
feathers was slower in the dorsal tract than in any other region except on the
head and the wing bow. A high correlation was also observed between body
weight and feather development. Rapid feather development offered consider-
able protection against feather picking.

Jaap and Morris (1937) studied the variation in body weight and rate of
feathering at 8 weeks of age in six general purpose breeds and crosses. Their
data indicated some association between rate of growth and rate of feathering.
They found, however, that reciprocal crosses between rapid- and slow-feathered
stocks gave a more or less intermediate feather development.


Radi and Warren (1938) presented rather extensive data on chick feathering
in Rhode Island Reds. They reported that thyroxine injections definitely stim-
ulated feather development; that brooding under either high humidity or low
temperature improved feathering; that selection was efTective in producing strains
genetically different in degree of feathering at seven weeks; that superior feather-
ing was incompletely dominant to poor feathering but the number of genes in-
volved was not determined; and concluded that the genetic differences established
were probably due to modifying factors acting upon the sex-linked dominant
late-feathering gene for which the birds were known to be homozygous.

Lloyd (1939) made a study of feathering in Barred Plymouth Rocks, Rhode
Island Reds, Cambars, and White Leghorns. He observed varying degrees of
feathering at 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age and expressed the opinion that it is probably
possible to produce uniform rapid feathering in Reds and Rocks. He believes
that rapid feathering behaves as a dominant in inheritance.

At the present time there is considerable confusion regarding the mode of
inheritance of rate of chick feathering. There is general agreement, however,
that the general purpose breeds are normally slow in feathering and that there
is a sexual dimorphism in rate of feathering. Through selective breeding in
recent years considerable progress has been made in establishing rapid chick
feathering in many flocks but the problem is not a simple one. A study of several
phases of the problem should add important information.

Data Available

Beginning in 1931 all birds were classified at 12 days of age for the sex-linked
early feathered type only, and a study was begun at the Massachusetts Station
in 1933 on the mode of inheritance of rate of chick feathering in Rhode Island
Reds. The primary objective was to develop a method of breeding to produce
complete back feathering at 8 weeks of age. Ten generations of chicks have
been examined for back feathering at 8 weeks making a total of over 30,000

In 1934 selective breeding was begun to develop three lines with respect to
chick feathering. Line 1 was bred for complete back feathering at 8 weeks.
Line 2 was bred for absence of back feathering at 8 weeks. A control line included
birds bred for high fecundity without regard to rate of feathering.

Throughout the experiment there was considerable difficulty in separating
pullets at 8 weeks of age into rapid and slow types with respect to back feather-
ing. In males no difficulty was experienced. Line 1 was always reproduced by
sires that had complete back feathering at 8 weeks and line 2 was always repro-
duced by sires that had no back feathering at 8 weeks. After the first generation,
female breeders were selected within their respective lines.

Records were also secured on many of the chicks at 10 days to discover the
presence of the recessive sex-linked gene by the development of tail feathers.
Rate of feathering in nine feather tracts was studied weekly in a number of
chicks. Complete trapnest records were secured on many females to study the
relation between rate of feathering and fecundity characters.

Character of the Foundation Stock

A preliminary study was made on the flock hatched in 1933 to get information
on the presence or absence of the sex-linked gene for rapid feathering and the
presence or absence of back feathering at 8 weeks of age. The presence of a
tail at 12 days of age is produced by the recessive sex-linked gene si. Males with
tails were therefore marked slsl and males without tails were marked SI. In a
similar manner females with tails were si and those without tails were SI. At 8


weeks of age the birds were graded into + and — groups, depending upon the
development of some back feathering or the lack of any back feathering.

A total of 1494 males was examined at 12 days and again at 8 weeks of age.
At the same time 1436 females were examined and classified. The summary
appears in table 1.

Table 1.— Chick Feathering at 12 Days and 8 Weeks of Age.
Foundation Flock— 1933.

Males Females

At 12 Days SI slsl SI si

At 8 Weeks -+-+ - + - +

Totals 1275 83 92 44 505 666 63 201

Of 1494 males examined, only 136 or 9.1 percent carried the sex-linked gene
si in homozygous condition, and 92 of these (67.6 percent) failed to develop back
feathering at 8 weeks. Out of 1358 males in which there was no tail development
at 12 days, 83 had back feathering at 8 weeks.

In the female population 18.3 percent carried the sex-linked gene si, and 23.8
percent of these failed to develop back feathering at 8 weeks. Out of the total
of 1172 that lacked tail growth at 12 days, 56.8 percent showed back feathering
at 8 weeks.

Only 127 or 8.5 percent of the males in the foundation stock carried complf te
back feathering at 8 weeks, while over 60 percent of the females had complete
back covering at 8 weeks. Furthermore, out of 1358 males that were not homo-
zygous for gene si, 6.1 percent developed back feathering in comparison with
32.4 percent in males carrying recessive gene si.

Opportunity is given for study of the relations of the gene for early tail growth
and genes for back feathering later on in this report.

Development of Feathers in Different Body Regions

Observations were made weekly for 8 weeks, on 419 chicks in lines 1 and 2
hatched in 1934 and 1935. The feather tracts studied were head, neck, breast,
shoulder, back, abdomen, thigh, leg, and. tail. In table 2 the sexes are recorded
separately and the mean age when feather growth started and when it was com-
pleted is indicated for line 1 , bred for complete back feathering at 8 weeks, and
line 2, bred for absence of back feathering at 8 weeks.

Table 2. — Mean Age in Weeks When Feathering Started and was
Completed. 1934 and 1935 — 419 Chicks.

Age in Weeks

Age in



when Feathering Started

when Feathering

was Completed






Line 1

Line 2

Line 1

Line 2

Line 1

Line 2

Line 1

Line 2

Head . . .









Neck . . .









Breast . .










. 2.61








Back . . .









Abdomen 4.19








Thigh ..


















Tail ....










The head and the back tracts were slowest in developing feathers; the abdomen,
neck, and thigh regions were also rather slow in developing; and the shoulder,
breast, and tail developed feathers rather early. Males feathered more slowly
than females, and there was a significant difference in age when feather growth
started between lines 1 and 2.

When the age at which feathering was complete in the different feather tracts
is considered, it will be noted that head, leg, and abdomen were slowest to com-
plete feather development; the back, tail, and breast were next in order; and the
shoulder and thigh regions completed feather development rather early. In
almost all tracts studied, the males of line 2 were slower than those of line 1.
Females in the two lines did not differ greatly in time required for complete
feather development in the different feather tracts. This is in line with the previ-
ous observation that feathering phenotypes are difficult to distinguish in females.

Percentage of Chicks Completely Feathered in the Different
Tracts at Eight Weeks of Age

It is desirable to learn something about stages of feather growth in the differ-
ent tracts at the age of 8 weeks. Since selective breeding had just begun when
these observations were made, it is self-evident that the fast and slow lines would
be less diverse than in later generations.

Table 3 indicates that both lines were rather poorly feathered at 8 weeks of
age when the experiment began. In line 1 only 9.91 percent of the males had
complete back feathering, while in line 2 the percentage was even less, 2.94

Table 3. — Percentage of Chicks Completely Feathered in the
Different Tracts at 8 Weeks of Age. 1934-1935.



Line 1

Line 2

Line 1

Line 2


.. 1.74





.. 61.21





. . 43.97




Shoulder . . .

. . 56.03





. . 9.91




Abdomen . . .

. . 34.48





. . 6.03

5 49




.. 39.66





. . 8.62




In the females, the percentages were 72.41 and 41.67 respectively for lines 1 and
2. These data indicate that at the beginning of the experiment both lines in-
cluded some rapid-feathering birds.

Relation Between Feathering at Twelve Days and Back Feathering

at Eight Weeks

Records on tail development at 12 days and on feathering over the back at 8
weeks were taken on all chicks in the control group and in lines 1 and 2 for the
generations hatched in 1938 and 1939. It seemed particularly desirable to study
the relation between the sex-linked recessive gene si which produces tail growth
during the second week and the presence or absence of back feathering at 8

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