Mother Reared her Chickens, late in the 1940’s
Mother bought her day old chickens from a hatchery, ready sexed so she knew that they would be all pullets, though just the occasional a few would turn out cockerels. In her order for two hundred they seemed to send half a dozen extra, so it could be they just chucked in a few cock chickens just for the hell of it, after all they had to get rid of them some how, and being a laying hybrid, they were not much good for fattening.
The hatchery would notify us what time they would arrive at our local train station for us to pick them up as promptly as possible. The station master and porters would take the boxes off the train (all steam trains back then) and if it were a cold day stand them by the coke stove in the waiting room, thinking they were doing us a favour, but all it did was to sweat them up then they would get a chill when put in the brooder.
The brooder was a mushroom shaped with a curtain round the edge and a cardboard ring outside that to retain the chicken in for the first few days. This was heated with a paraffin lamp down in the centre leg and a thermometer stuck down a hole into the area occupied by the chickens.
Mother had a Brooder
Mother had a brooder, for her chickens to rear,
Ordered from the hatchery, had them twice a year,
Two hundred chicks day old, they despatched by rail,
Pick them up at the local station, platform they prevail.
Got to be there to meet the train, in four boxes norm,
If ya late station master, stand them by his stove too warm,
Sweats them up then chills them, tho he means no harm,
As day old need a constant warmth, the brooder will conform.
They start off on news paper, with chicken crumbs to peck,
And a jam jar water fountain, clean up every speck,
Then to push them under brooder, paraffin lamp to heat,
Let them out every hour and half, for them more to eat.
After a day or two they, go in and out them selves,
Tail feathers start to grow, into food hoppers delves,
It's a little curtain they go through, for them warm to keep,
Till they have all their feathers, then onto perches sleep.
Open the hatch to let them out, first time hour afore dark,
Get then used to where they live, in and out of the ark,
Soon they grow and forage around, all about the farm yard,
Laying in the nest boxes, some lay away, to find them's hard.
In autumn the pens were taken up, onto field wheat stubble,
Pick up all the grain that shead, move the pens no trouble,
Field pens with little cast wheels, slatted floors the lot,
No cleaning out just move the pen, three times a week new plot.
Month or six weeks then inside, deep litter pen now ready,
Now the days are shorter, the eggs flagging off to steady,
New idea, put on a light, keep them wake much longer,
Time switch bought for this job, keep up the profits stronger.
Countryman (Owd Fred)
This was the first time we had ever had a time switch, and the very up to date thinking was to extend the day for the laying hens, to increase egg production. Never been heard of before and how far in front of others in the village were we, they could not understand why our hen pen lights were on right up to midnight.
Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.
Aesop (620-560 BC)