Australian enquiry book of household and general information/Poultry Notes


IN a wet climate it is advisable to have some shelter for the fowls during the daytime, where they will be out of the damp and rain, yet not absolutely confined. A verandah round the fowl house is a good plan.

Fowls suffering from roup should be isolated at once to some warm dry place out of all draughts. Wash the offensive matter from the nostrils two or three times a day with warm water and vinegar, or weak alum and water. Give a teaspoonful of castor oil directly you notice the disease, and some hours after a pill of sulphate of iron 1 gr., camphor 1 gr., cayenne 3 grs., liquid extract of aloes 1 gr., extract of aconite 1/6 of a gr. Repeat night and morning till better. For a chicken only give half a pill for a dose. It is a very good plan to get a dozen or so of these pills made up and always keep them handy, as in severe cold they are excellent, and one can often save a valuable hen a long illness by giving one of these in time.

Another pill easily mixed up with a little bread or dough is of cayenne pepper 1 gr., sulphate of copper ½ gr., copaiba 4 drops. Give one night and morning in cases of roup or severe cold. Give nourishing food, and see that the water the birds have access to is pure. To find out whether a bird is suffering from cold, look under the wing where he keeps his head at night, you will find the feathers all stuck together and hard if he has a cold.


Most of the very heavy breeds are subject to this, and I have heard it said that Dorkings are more liable to it than any other. It comes on the ball of the foot like a hard corn at first. Caustic applied regularly is advised by most fanciers, or hot fomentations when the swelling becomes inflamed and full of matter. Unless a bird is very valuable it is hardly worth while bothering with it, better to kill him and have done with it. The only experience I have had of this disease was in a very valuable Brahma rooster, and after trying caustic and all sorts of other remedies, I hit upon a new treatment, viz., a poultice of fresh cow dung. I swung the bird in a sort of hammock and applied fresh poultices two or three times a day till the gathering broke, then I put on bread poultices to clean it, and very soon the bird was as well as ever. If the swelling is noticed at first and painted with iodine it may be arrested before it comes to a serious gathering.


This is very often the result of giving the same food always. Hens require a variety of food as much as human beings do, and unless they get it they will not repay keeping. Hens kept in small yards will sometimes eat their eggs. Broken oyster shell, burnt bones, or bone meal should be given.


Fowls kept in confinement and with no grass run will require a great deal more food than those who have a big run and an open paddock, also their diet must be made up to represent as nearly as possible the food they would pick up themselves if free. For instance, for twelve hens and a rooster in a wire cage you will have to give a first feed, say at six o'clock in the morning, of soft food—pollard and sweet potatoes is very good, or kitchen scraps consisting of potato peels, meat, waste bread, &c., all boiled together and mixed with enough pollard or meal of some kind to make it into a stiff dough, and allow for each bird a lump about the size of a cricket ball. Instead of scattering the soft food it should be put into a long narrow trough, so that all can get at it easily. About twelve o'clock give one handful of grain for each bird, and scatter it well about their cage. Half an hour or so before bed time they should have another feed of grain, allowing a little more than the handful each. Fowls in confined runs require amusement, or rather something to employ them, or they will take to feather eating and picking, or some other bad habit. Straw laid down in their cage and the grain scattered amongst it gives them something to do, as well as exercise, which is equally necessary. Another plan is to hang a cabbage up just above their reach, they will amuse themselves for hours together jumping up to pick at the heart of the cabbage. With young game roosters this is a favorite way to train them to stand up properly and hold their heads up. A piece of raw liver or a cabbage is hung in their cage for them to peck at, and through the constant reaching up they get into the habit of carrying their heads high and haughtily. It is a good way of giving your fowls green food and employment at the same time. If you cannot feed early in the morning, a few handfuls of grain should be scattered over night, so that they will have something to eat the first thing. Meat must be given to fowls if possible every day. The refuse from the soup if the family indulges in soup, or any refuse meat boiled down to rags. Many fanciers, I believe, advocate raw meat for the poultry, and particularly for ducks. I do not consider it either good for the birds themselves, or for those who finally eat them. Some seasons ago I tried the experiment of feeding uncooked meat to ducks, the result was they got beautifully fat and grew wonderfully. I was delighted till one day I chanced to be cleaning a pair for our own table and found out the intestines were full of tiny worms, and the liver was covered with little white spots. I might not have thought anything of this, or put it down to some other cause, but that I happened to see a number of ducks being cleaned for some party in town, they had been reared at or near the slaughter yards, and they were just alive with the same little worms. Afterwards I took to boiling my meat to rags, and when I next killed a duck there were no worms or spots, and decidedly the flavour is just as good. I have since been told that it is a well known fact that the ducks running about the slaughter yards are full of worms. Poultry that have a big run and plenty of grass require no more than two regular meals a day, viz., soft food early in the morning, and a feed of grain just before going to roost, but do not give more than they will pick up readily; directly they cease to run for it cease feeding.


Give your hens sulphur in their food occasionaly—just before laying is a good time; give it every second morning for a week. It will brighten their feathers and purify their blood.

Never overfeed your laying hens.

Brahmas, Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes, all require good feeding when laying.

Let the hens have access to the manure heap, they will get good food for eggs there.

Corn (maize) is not a good food continuously, it is too heating and fattening. Wheat, oats, millet, all are very good.

Boil the kitchen scraps for them. Give wheat when they are moulting.

Oats should always be soaked in a little warm water, for half an hour or more before giving to the fowls.

A few drops of tincture of iron in the water when moulting is very good.

To make a nest egg.—Blow an egg in the ordinary way. Mix some plaster of Paris with water till as thick as paint, stir in a few drops of carbolic acid and pour into the egg shell. When dry, you have a good and also a useful nest egg, as lice will not go near it on account of the carbolic.

Get the farmer to plough up a patch of ground for the young pullets to scratch over.

The following is a good mixture to give fowls occasionally: Sulphate of iron, 8 ounces; sulphuric acid, half a fluid ounce. Put into a gallon of water, first the iron, and when that is dissolved add the acid. Half a pint for every 40 head of fowls is the dose, mixed with the drinking water. It is an excellent tonic during the moulting season.

Meat is a necessity for little chickens, at least, every two days. You can buy enough scraps from the butcher to do a week for two-pence. Boil them down to rags and feed to them with their usual food.

Keep the fowl house clean, and all about it. Wash the roosts occasionally and then whitewash with lime.

Jalap is a valuable medicine for sick fowls, 14 grains made into a pill is the dose for a full-grown bird.

Make friends of your hens; they are wonderfully intelligent if you only knew it.


Have a good sized bowl filled with water and put the eggs in one at a time, those that are fresh will sink to the bottom, and the stale ones will float. According to the degree of staleness they will float near the bottom or near the top. For instance, a very fresh egg will lie on the bottom, one a few days old will not quite touch it, and so on till a very stale or bad egg will float on the top. An experienced cook can generally tell by the feel of an egg whether it is fresh or stale.


When eggs are only 6d. or 8d. per dozen it is best to save and preserve them till they are a better price. There are dozens of recipes for preserving eggs, many of them excellent in their way, but best of all I have found lime water, without salt or anything else. Some people say that they can notice a distinct flavour of lime in eggs so preserved, others say that the eggs become too salty. On the other hand, I have sold eggs which have been in lime seven weeks, and have been complimented upon their freshness and new laid flavour. I am a great believer in the old saying, “What the eye don’t see the heart don't grieve for,” and if people know that your eggs are preserved they will fancy that there is a flavour. If you supply a large number regularly to any one family or hotel, it is wise to only supply half the number at one time, for instance, if twelve dozen, only take six dozen out of the lime at once, and the other six dozen in two or three days, because preserved eggs get stale very soon once they are lifted, but when first taken out of lime they are fit for boiling, frying, or anything, but unless they are put in perfectly fresh from the nest they will not come out fresh, and in dropping them in care must be taken that they are not cracked or broken. Kerosene tins are a convenient size for holding the lime and eggs, and as each one is filled it should be labelled with the number of eggs in it, and the date when the first lot were put in. If the lime is of the proper strength a hard crust of clear lime will form on the top, and this should not be disturbed or broken once the tin is filled with eggs. To make the lime water, allow two cups of lime to every gallon of water, boil fast for five or ten minutes, stirring the while; then remove from the fire,and next day pour off the clear water and fill up the lime tin again. Stir up the sediment and boil as before, and when that has cleared add it to the first lot. Fill or three parts fill your kerosene tins, and always put in your eggs with a long spoon fresh from the nest.


Almost every hen-wife has her own special way of preserving her surplus eggs. For my own part I have tried several, but always found that the most simple was the best. Here are one or two sent me from an egg and poultry district:—Make a pickle of 1 bushel of stone lime, 4 lbs. of coarse salt, and about 60 gals, of water. Slake the lime first with a little of the water, and when all is mixed leave it till the lime has settled and the solution is clear. Draw off the water very carefully into a cask, or whatever you mean to put the eggs in. The eggs may be placed in a biscuit tin (or any other) punched full of holes, and then placed in the lime water, they are easily got out in this way; or they can be put in one by one. When full, cover with a cloth. I have always found it most convenient to have small receptacles for the eggs, kerosene tins being as useful as anything, as then when using you can take the stalest first.


First oil every egg, then pack them in coarse salt, layer by layer in a keg or cask till it is quite full. Nail it up, and lay on its side in some place where it will be cool, and every day or two give it a half turn over to prevent the yolks from sticking to the sides of the shell.


For boils, bad wounds that have become inflamed, or bruises, the yolk of an egg mixed with honey and flour, laid on like ointment, will give relief.

For clarifying coffee, jellies, etc., etc., nothing is better than the whites and shells beaten together.

White of egg mixed with lime makes a good cement.

Nothing is better for cleansing the head than an egg well rubbed in before washing.

White of egg will renew the gloss of a straw hat or bonnet after cleaning.

To clean cruets, eggshells crushed in a little water are as good as shot.

The white of an egg is good to put on a burn, also the yolk beaten up with a little glycerine and put in a bottle is good. It must be well shaken when to be used.

For weak or inflamed eyes, the white of an egg beaten to a froth with a little water, and applied with a soft rag.

For a boil, the skin of a boiled egg moistened and put on is good; it will draw off the matter.

The white of an egg will allay the pain of a burn and exclude the air.

If beaten up it is very good in relieving cough and hoarseness.

It is also good for infant diarrhœa.

In severe hoarseness or loss of voice, beat the white of an egg (as stiff as if for frosting) with sugar, add the juice of a lemon, and pour the whole into a cup of boiling water, and drink at bed time.

For dysentery, beat up an egg with a tiny pinch of salt, and swallow; it will soothe the inflamed bowels.

Australian Equiry Book of Household and General Information 1894 page 101.jpg