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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/750

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HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

plenty of good, wholesome flesh. Whatever the breed, the treatment is the same in the fattening coop. Chickens should be confined in them when about three months old, and be fed three times a day, the troughs, which are hung outside the coop, being removed as soon as they have satisfied their appetites. Food should never be left standing by them, and in the early fattening stages it is a good plan to miss a meal at the first indication of failing appetite. The ground oats, which constitute their principal food, are nearly always mixed with separated milk, and made so moist that the birds cannot lift up a lump with their beaks. It is necessary that they should be kept in semidarkness; and when their appetites fail, as they usually do after a fortnight's restraint, the cramming machine has to be utilized, the same food being still given them, with the addition of suet or rough fat. The coops or pens employed by the poultry feeders are made of laths, stand raised from the ground, and are usually placed in sheds. They who have no fattening pens should confine the fowls in a small run, feed them three times a day on ground oats, barley-meal, and maize-meal mixed with potatoes. When a certain stage is reached the birds begin to go back, and should be killed at once, first letting them fast twenty-four hours to empty the crop. The longest period that is advisable for fattening a fowl is three weeks.

An easy way to kill a fowl is to hang it up by the legs, and with a sharp knife pierce the roof of the mouth until the point touches the brain. Death is instantaneous, and the fowl should be plucked whilst warm, and then placed in a V-shaped trough, back uppermost, a board being laid on the top with a heavy weight upon it, to ensure the fowl being a good shape when cold.

Fattening Turkeys for the Table.—Turkeys grow very slowly; therefore, the earlier they are hatched the better when it is necessary that they should attain their full growth by Christmas. They need plenty of liberty and good feeding from the day of their hatching until they come to the fattening shed. A roomy shed, open to the south, should be selected for the purpose, for these birds thrive best when kept warm and dry. The shed should be supplied with low perches, kept scrupulously clean, and provided with means for excluding the light. They are usually fed twice a day; in the morning on a mixture of meals, such as ground oats, barley-meal, sharps or pollard, and a little maize, moistened with separated milk. The afternoon meal sometimes consists of whole corn, previously soaked in hot water and given to them whilst warm, or it may be simply a repetition of the morning's meal. The addition of fat helps to make the flesh of the birds white, and a certain amount of flint grit is necessary to their well-being. They should not be permitted to see fowls at liberty while under restraint themselves, otherwise they are apt to fret and refuse their food.

Fattening Ducks for the Table.—The secret of success in fattening ducks consists in starting the process almost as soon as they are hatched, in