By F. W. RISHER, Assistant Commissioner
Florida State Marketing Bureau
Florida State Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, COMMISSIONER
Poultry, Duck, Guinea, Geese, Pigeon
and Pheasant Raising
Turkey Production and Marketing
By F. W. RISHER, Assistant Commissioner
Florida State Marketing Bureau
Florida State Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Bulletin No. 35
Poultry Raising in Florida ---------- -- -- 5
Value of the Poultry Industry of Florida and U. S. 6-8
Choosing a Location 9
Inside Typical Broiler House -------------------- 10
Types of Houses-Dropping Boards-Roosts-Nests 9-12
Breeds of Poultry ---------- ------ --------12, 14-15
Florida Broiler Houses ------------------------ 13
Making a Start 15
Methods of Getting Started --------------------- 15-16
Hatching Eggs --------- ---------------- 16
Grow Healthy Chicks -16, 18
Baby Chicks ---------------------------- 18
Started Chicks. 10-12-Week-Old Pullets -------------- 18-19
Ready-to-Lay Pullets. Breeding Stock. Clean Brooder Houses ---19-20
Clean Land-Balanced Ration-Brooder Houses 20
Incubation ----------------------------- 20-21
Feeds and Feeding .....-------- -------------- 21-23
Feeding Chicks and Young Stock ------------------ 23-24
Rations --- -------------------- -24-26
Fattening Rations ---------------------------- 26-27
Green Feed or Pastures for Poultry. Methods of Feeding Compared 27-28
Egg Laying Test at Chipley, Fla. Housing, Feeding 27-29
Yards-Lights, Management 29
Egg Production --------- -------------- 29-30
Composition of Feeds -------------------------30-31
Essential Food Nutrients for Poultry 32
Feeding and Caring for Growing Pullets -32-33
Feeding for Egg Production-Protein-Minerals 33-35
Some Causes of Failure in the Poultry Business 35
Total Cost of Producing Eggs 35
Vitamin Content of Poultry Feed 36
Summer Range Shelter 37
Green Feed for Poultry ------------------------ 38
Broiler Production --------------------------38-39
Culling ------------------------- --------- 39-40
Trapnesting --------------------------------- 40
Good Production Characteristics --------------------41-42
Molting ------------------------ -42-43
Common Poultry Parasites ---------------------- 43-45
Diseases of Poultry ..... ---------------------------45-46
Disinfectants and Antiseptics -------------------- 46-47
Governmental Assistance to Poultrymen ---------------- 47-48
Turkeys Adapted to Florida -------------------- 49
Size Turkey Crop in Florida ------------------- 49, 51
Typical Farm Flock Bronze Turkeys --------------- 50
Standard Breeds and Varieties of Turkeys ------------52-53
How to Start Into Turkey Raising 53-54
The Brooder House ------- 54-55
Litter or Wire Floors in Brooder House 55
Preparing the Brooder House -------------------55-56
Selecting the Brooder Stove -----------------------56-57
Setting Up the Brooder House 57-58
Week by Week Brooding Operations for Turkeys 58-61
The Range ----------------------------------61-64
Management of Turkeys While on the Range 64
Feeding Turkeys on Range ---------------------- 64-65
Feed Costs .-------------- ----------- --- 65-66
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Crops for Turkeys 66-67
Sanitary Management 67-68
Treat for Lice 68
Feeding Formulas ---------------------------68, 70
Turkey Flock, White, West Florida 69
Marketing Turkeys --------------------------70-73
Geese .. ----------------------- 75
Breeds of Geese ------ ------------------ 75-76
Incubation-Breeding and Raising 76-77
Marketing Geese --------------- ----- --- ----- 77
Duck Raising 78
Wild Mallards ------------------------------ 79
Meat Breeds ---------------------- ------ 80-82
Egg Producing Breeds of Ducks 83-84
Ornamental Breeds ---------------------- 85
Egg Production -------------------------- 85
Meat Producing Strains 86
Housing for Breeders ------------------------- 87-88
Raising Ducklings 88
Management-Getting Established 88-90
Feeding ------------------------- ------- 90
Early Marketing-Incubation 90-91
Brooding and Raising 91-92
Two Methods of Duck Farming -------------------- 92-93
Raising Ducks on a Small Scale 93-94
Breeders ---------- 95
Breeding Stock ------------------------------ 96
Housing Layers 96-97
Houses --- -.----------------- 97, 99
Breeding Range -- .---------------------- 98
Brooders ------------------ --------- 99, 101
Ring Neck Pheasants ---------------------- --- 100
Holding Pens ------------------ ---------- 101
Varieties of Pheasants .------------------ --- 102
Squab Raising-White King, Male ---------------- 103
Varieties for Squab Production ------------------- 103-105
Mating ------ ------------------.---- 105-106
Hatching and Raising-Feed ---------------------- 106-108
Housing and Equipment 108
Feeding Practices ------------------------- 108, 111
Pigeon Loft --------------------------- 109
Pigeon Nests ---------------- ---- ------ 110
Manure and Sanitation --. --------------111
Demand for Guinea Fowl ---------------------- 112
Varieties of Guineas .... ----------------------- ----- 112-113
Fancy Guineas ------------- -------113-114
Breeding Egg Production ---------------------114-116
Natural Incubation and Brooding ------------------ 116-117
Artificial Incubation and Brooding 117-118
Feeding and Raising ------------------------ 118-119
Marketing -- ----.----------------------- 119
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
By FRANK W. RISHER
S OME of the economic and natural advantages necessary in
developing a great poultry industry found in Florida are
a mild, even climate, free from great extremes of heat and
cold, plenty of green feed, lots of sunshine, and a good market,
coupled with many trained poultrymen. It is rather difficult
to tell which point is most important, for it may be like the
old adage, "There is more in the man than in the land." No
doubt the poultry industry in Florida was slow in developing,
because the mass of its farmers were not livestock or poultry-
minded, but rather vegetables or citrus fruits were first in
their thoughts and received most attention. This is changing,
and many have come to see the value of poultry in our farm
economy as a commercial enterprise.
Climatically, the situation in Florida is almost ideal, for
there are only a few days of extreme heat in summer and only
a few days during the midwinter months are there tempera-
tures below freezing. This gives the advantage of low housing
costs and very little money need be spent for fuel used for
heating purposes. This mild, even climate allows the up and
going poultrymen to bring their hens into full production in
the fall and winter, and take advantage of the higher prices
that prevail then.
A bountiful supply of green feed can be grown every
month of the year and is very beneficial in the developing of
a profitable industry. There are very few places where there
is more sunshine or daylight in which poultry can live and
develop outdoors, especially in the winter months, than is
found in Florida; with an abundance of rainfall, well distrib-
uted, it is possible to have green feed every month in the year
outdoors. The hen, it is generally agreed, does best when
allowed access to sunlight and green feed.
The commercial poultryman, the farm-flock producer and
the back-yard poultry raiser, as well as the poultry fancier,
find poultry keeping enjoyable and profitable. The poultry-
man who is attracted to Florida finds that the knowledge of
poultry raising in other sections can be used to good advan-
tage, but must study the methods and technique that are ap-
plicable here. Because of the difference in climate, rainfall
and soil, not all of the methods used elsewhere are applicable.
However, by a little study, and by observing the methods of
6 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
successful poultrymen, the beginner can soon adapt himself
to conditions, and develop a successful business.
VALUE OF THE POULTRY INDUSTRY IN FLORIDA
This industry is of interest to every person in the State
from the viewpoint of a producer or that of a consumer. There
is no branch of agriculture so nearly practiced on every
Florida farm as is poultry keeping, for some kind of poultry
is found in every county in the State.
Courtesy County Agent, Tavares
Poultry Flock in Lake County
In 1943 the United States Department of Agriculture
attributed the poultry farmers of Florida with producing
5,816,000 head of poultry, valued at $4,500,000. Besides the
chickens produced by farmers, there were produced 5,300,000
broilers, valued at $4,150,000, by the commercial broiler plants.
Poultrymen also produced a little more than 18,000,000 dozen
eggs, valued at $6,500,000; or to make it more vivid, this
would supply every person in the State with approximately
one hundred and twenty eggs per annum. The total value of
the poultry and eggs produced in Florida in 1951 was approxi-
mately $29,880,000; only our citrus, green vegetables, live-
stock and dairy products ranked above poultry as a source
of revenue, and this places poultry in fifth rank as an agri-
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 7
cultural enterprise in the State. In 1954 Florida poultrymen
produced 40,000,000 dozen eggs, valued at $19,759,000. They
produced 51,100,000 pounds of poultry meats, valued at
A review of some census figures reveals how the poultry
enterprise is keeping step with other Florida progress. In the
year 1919, Florida poultry flocks produced 61/ million dozen
eggs; this had increased to more than 141/2 million dozen in
1929. The U. S. Bureau of Agricultural Economics estimates
that in 1943 Florida poultrymen produced approximately
18,000,000 dozen eggs, and in 1951-produced 29,750,000
dozen. The 1956 production was 42,000,000 dozen.
Quality of the bulk of the eggs produced in Florida that
now enter trade channels is as good as that of those produced
anywhere in the country. Of the 51,000,000 pounds of poultry
meat produced in 1954-34,034,000 were commercial broilers,
and 17,000,000 pounds, farm chickens, and 1956 broiler pro-
duction was 37,000,000 pounds.
There is still room for more poultry, as it is estimated by
many authorities that close to 50% of the eggs consumed in
Florida are imported, and 75% of the poultry meat consumed
CHICKENS RAISED ON U. S. FARMS
In 1933-42 (10-year average) 684,500,000 head
In 1948 there were ----------- 615,000,000 head
In 1952 561,000,000 head
In 1954 ------- ----------- 540,000,000 head
In 1956 ---------------- -------472,000,000 head
In 1958 ---------- ----- 320,000,000 head
The value of poultry meat and eggs produced in 1948 was
over $3,000,000,000 at the point of production in U. S. A., and
in 1954 was $3,133,000,000, and in 1956, $3,420,000,000.
In 1954 eggs produced in U. S. were 65 billion (65,000,-
000,000), and 61,000,000,000 in 1958.
Florida farmers produced 4,431,000 head of chickens in
1948, while the 10-year (1933-42) average production was
4,146,000 head. Production was 208 eggs per bird in 1958.
Broiler plants of Florida produced 7,276,000 fryers or
broilers in 1948, they produced 10,000,000 broilers in 1951,
and 11,736,000 in 1954, and 11,830,000 in 1956.
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Florida Poultry Production
Number Raised on Farms 5,509,000
Number Raised in Commercial Houses 10,090,000
Dozens of Eggs Produced - ----- 29,750,000
Florida Poultry Production
Number Raised on Farms 5,757,000
Number Raised in Commercial Houses 11,736,000
Dozens of Eggs Produced 40,000,000
Pounds of Turkey Produced 3,397,000
Florida Poultry Production
Number Farm Chickens 4,800,000
Number of Commercial Broilers 11,400,000
Number Dozens Eggs Produced 57,000,000
U. S. Commercial Broiler Production
Year 1934-First Year U. S. D. A. Kept
Records 34,000,000 head
1954 Production ------------ --1,059,000,000 head
1956 Production 1,320,000,000 head
1958 Production --------1,700,000,000 head
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 9
CHOOSING A LOCATION
When a person decides that he wants to engage in the
poultry industry, the next step is to select a location. Many
considerations enter here: soil, shade, crops and runs, prox-
imity to old poultry farms and markets. The soil should be
high enough that the pens and runs will not become quagmires
during a rainy season. The poultry house should be located
on a southern or southeastern slope facing south, and located
so the land in front and rear can be used for grazing lots.
A sandy, reasonable porous soil is generally more suitable
than heavy or clay soils. The land should be such that green
feed can be grown at least with fair success. Trees to pro-
vide shade, which is desirable for the health and comfort of
the fowls during much of the year. If one intends giving
the birds range and not confining them continuously, fairly
open pasture is important. Because of danger of disease, it
is not advisable to locate a new poultry farm near an old one as
long as there is any question as to the presence of disease on it.
An important consideration in this connection is nearness
to markets. This applies to the things the poultryman must
buy as well as to the things he will sell. Naturally, the centers
of population provide him with both. Jacksonville, Miami,
Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, the Palm Beaches,
Pensacola and many other centers from the standpoint of mar-
kets, are all inviting locations. West Florida has developed
into quite a commercial territory because of better market
facilities that have developed in this area around Panama City,
Pensacola and Tallahassee. Some of these cities provide con-
stant year around demands for poultry and poultry products,
which may give them an advantage over others. Moreover,
the more typical tourist centers may make up for their short
season of demand by better prices during this short season.
However, it remains true that in this age of rapid transporta-
tion, prices for such produce remain more or less equal in
markets as close together as those.
TYPES OF HOUSES
The types of houses that are being used in the majority
of instances are shed-roof or even-span and semi-monitor;
the other types are found on some farms. The house should
be deep-18 to 20 feet-to provide for roost space and a feed
space while hens are confined. The deep houses give the birds
more room to live in when confined and provide better ventila-
Inside Typical Broiler House
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 11
tion. A good roof is most important to keep hens dry and
prevent many troubles caused by wet conditions. A house
18 by 32 feet will provide space for 150 hens of light breeds.
In constructing a poultry house, it is essential to make the
front high to allow sunlight for it is a good disinfectant. In
deep houses, light can be had under the dropping boards by
having windows in the back of the house.
Many poultrymen are using an all-purpose portable house
for raising chicks and for a laying house. They are usually
10 by 12 feet in size with a "V" roof and built on skids, and
are moved to new locations one or two times a year.
The poultry house should provide ample space to prevent
overcrowding. Florida poultrymen allow two to four square
feet of floor space per bird, depending on the breed.
In providing floors, these essential features should be pro-
vided: (1) dryness, (2) smooth, hard surface that can be
easily cleaned, (3) proof against rats and mice, (4) economy
of construction. The three types used are (1) cement or con-
crete, (2) wood, (3) dirt. Many poultrymen used dirt floors
and deep litter.
Many poultrymen in Florida have adopted the cage system
for egg production. The houses are essentially the same as
those used for keeping layers on the floor. Layers are usually
kept one to a cage. The cage is made of wire with feed trough
and water on the outside.
.-7 "q -:" - -,'
, fflt "7^K
Courtesy Florida Poultryman & Stockman
Open Front Laying House
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Dropping boards should be constructed of tongue and
groove lumber. The boards should be laid from front to rear
to facilitate cleaning. Arrange the boards horizontally and
parallel with the floor. Locate the boards about 21/2 or 3 feet
from the ground and let extend from 9 to 12 inches beyond
the front and back roosts.
When roost poles are provided, place on the same level, so
as to prevent the birds from crowding each other toward the
higher ends of the poles or toward the higher poles or perches.
For roosts, select 2-by-2-inch pieces, lumber or straight poles.
Rough or sharp corners or points should be smoothed down.
Place roosts about 6 inches above the dropping board and sup-
port either by wires from the roof or by a frame resting on
the dropping boards. Allow from 8 to 10 linear inches per bird
for roosting space. With the roosts from 12 to 16 inches
apart, this provides ample space. Wire stretched below the
roosts and above the dropping board collects any eggs that
may be laid and keeps the hens out of the droppings, which
promote cleanliness and health.
Locate nests convenient for both caretaker and hens. On
side walls or under dropping boards are usual places for nests.
Provide plenty of them-one for every five hens. For Leg-
horns and other light breeds, a 12-by-12-inch nest is about
the proper size. The heavier breeds need 12-by-14-inch nests.
Both sizes should be about 15 inches high, with a front board
3 or 4 inches high.
The bottom of the nest should be of either wood or wire.
When single tiers of nests are used, half-inch mesh hardware
cloth (fine wire) may be used for the bottom. This permits
freer circulation of air and allows droppings and trash to fall
A sloping roof on nests keeps hens from roosting on top
of them. Hinged jump boards in front may be closed to keep
hens out of the nests at night.
BREEDS OF POULTRY
Other most important points for the beginner to bear in
mind are breed and blood. The old axiom that "Blood will
tell" is true, as true in the poultry world as elsewhere. The
beginner should first determine which type of chicken he
Florida Broiler Houses
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
desires to raise-whether egg or meat-and then which par-
ticular breed within that type appeals to him most.
Beyond being poultry-minded, he must be Leghorn-minded
or Rhode Island Red-minded or Barred Rock-minded. Deter-
mine what you want to breed, then go after the best blood in
that particular line.
In Florida, most all breeds of poultry do well, but the most
popular are Single Comb White Leghorns, New Hampshires,
Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks and HyLines and cross-
bred. For the beginner, the best practice is to select one
High Hen, Chipley, 26th Contest, Laid 325 Eggs
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
breed, though some prefer two. One can usually do better
with only one breed.
The Single Comb White Leghorn is favored on commercial
egg farms where the main source of revenue is from the sale
of eggs. Leghorns come into production earlier that heavier
breeds and are profitable as egg producers. The disadvantage
of Leghorns is that the broilers are not looked on with favor
on the market and the price is discounted.
The Mediterranean breeds-Minorcas, Anconas and Cam-
pines-have the same general characteristics as the White
Leghorns, but are not so popular in Florida.
Dual purpose breeds of the American class, which include
Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Barred Plymouth Rocks
and White Wyandottes, are more suited for general farming
conditions. These birds are good producers of eggs, and meat,
and make good mothers.
MAKING A START
It is customary and perhaps most practical to begin with
young chicks in the spring, producing broilers for the spring
market and eggs for the late fall and winter trade. Get
started early. Early hatched chicks grow better, fewer die,
and the broilers bring more money because they are sold
earlier on a higher market. Then, the pullets mature in time
to lay high-priced fall and winter eggs.
To make sure of having pullets mature early enough to do
best as egg producers, it is preferable that no chicks be started
after April 15th, certainly not later than May 1st. Heavy
breeds, Rhode Island Reds for instance, should be hatched in
February and March; light breeds, such as White Leghorns,
should be hatched in late February, through March and the
first half of April.
Chicks to be brooded together should be hatched or secured
at the same time, because chicks of different ages never do well
together. Starting all at the same time reduces labor and gets
the more tedious part of the brooding over with at one time.
METHODS OF GETTING STARTED
Recommended by Extensica Service, University of Florida
There are several methods of starting into the poultry
business, such as by the purchase of
1. Hatching eggs
2. Baby chicks
b. Sexed chicks
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
3. Started chicks
4. 10- to 12-week-old pullets
5. Ready-to-lay pullets
6. Breeding stock
Each method has been used, but the more common methods
are to start with baby chicks or started chicks.
Hatching eggs should be saved from eggs produced by
well-bred birds. These breeders should display high egg pro-
duction, good egg size, fast rate of growth, livability and free-
dom from disease, and be typical of the breed.
Hatching eggs should be uniform in shape, size and color.
Size of Eggs-It is not desirable to use eggs weighing less
than 2 ounces each for hatching purposes. According to a
number of research workers, there is a high correlation or
relationship between size of egg and size of chick hatched.
Shell Color-With breeds of chickens producing white eggs,
do not use eggs for hatching purposes that have tints of color;
select chalk-white eggs. Brown eggs should be of a uniform
shade or tint.
Pointers in Saving Hatching Eggs-Do not use dirty eggs
for hatching purposes.
Do not wash hatching eggs. Washing tends to open the
pores and hasten evaporation. Slightly soiled eggs may be
cleaned with steel wool or a damp cloth.
Do not hold hatching eggs more than 7 to 10 days; the
shorter the time the better. When eggs are held for hatching
purposes keep them in a cool place-50-500 F. If they are
kept too warm (680 F. or above) germ development will start.
Gather the eggs three or four times daily.
Handle hatching eggs carefully, since rough handling may
cause a loosening of the air cell and thus lower hatchability.
If the eggs are placed in an egg case for holding, pack them
large end up. It is not necessary to turn the eggs unless they
are held longer than 7 days.
Select eggs for incubating that are uniform in size and
shape, sound in shell and uniform in shell color. Reject all
eggs having ridges or rough surfaces.
GROW HEALTHY CHICKS
The Agricultural Extension Service of the University of
Florida makes the following recommendations because
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 17
Range Shelter for Pullets
18 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
success in the poultry business is largely dependent on the
production of clean, healthy chicks:
1. Hatch early.
2. Clean eggs and chicks.
3. Clean brooder houses.
4. Clean land.
5. Balanced rations.
6. Separation of cockerels from pullets.
Start with Quality-In the poultry business it is most im-
portant to start with quality. Quality chicks mean chicks that
come from stock which is healthy, free of disease; stock which
has been bred for high egg production, livability, egg size,
rapid growth and fast feathering.
Consider quality first and price second.
Use care in purchasing chicks-
1. Check on list of breeders and hatcheries.
2. Buy chicks on well-established and proven strains.
3. Try to find chicks as near home as possible.
4. Obtain chicks from stock which has been tested and
found to be free of pullorum disease.
Chick Cost per Pullet with Varying Percentages of Mortality
and Culling and Different Prices for Baby Chicks
50% Pullets and 50% Cockerels
and Cost of Day-old Chicks
in 10 12 14 16 18 20
Percent Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents Cents
0 1 20 24 28 32 36 40
5 21.0 25.2 29.5 33.7 37.9 42.1
10 1 22.2 26.6 31.1 35.6 40.0 44.4
20 | 25.0 30.0 35.0 40.0 45.0 50.0
30 23.6 04.3 40.0 45.7 51.4 57.1
Chicks that have been fed, watered and brooded by the
hatchery operator usually from 2 to 4 weeks before they are
shipped or delivered to the customer are known as "started"
Started chicks cost more than day-old chicks, the price
depending on the age at time of shipment. There is a demand
for these started chicks because some purchasers wish to
avoid the first few weeks' period of brooding.
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 19
Many hatchery operators keep their started chicks in bat-
tery brooders. When a customer secures started chicks he
should make sure that the chickens become adapted to brood-
ing on the floor. Watch the chicks closely for the first few
nights to see that they are evenly distributed under the hover.
10 TO 12-WEEK-OLD PULLETS
Some poultry raisers do not care to brood chicks and so
wait till the birds are partially grown and then purchase only
the desired number of pullets. This method is more expensive
than starting with chicks. The time of year is a factor as to
whether this method is best.
Some producers have found it desirable to start with
ready-to-lay pullets. The cost is higher than in any of the
other methods mentioned, but it has the advantage in that
returns in the form of eggs start at once.
One can make a start in the poultry business by purchas-
ing breeding stock. The person who is interested in high
quality stock and is planning to develop his farm into a poul-
try breeding farm will find that this method is very satis-
factory but expensive.
BUY QUALITY NO MATTER HOW YOU START
Hatch early to secure early layers, as prices of eggs are
highest in September, October, November and December, and
broiler prices are highest in early spring.
QUALITY EGGS AND CHICKS
Eggs or chicks should be of real high quality. Purchase
eggs or chicks from flocks free of disease. These eggs or
chicks should come from hens that are bred for standard and
egg qualities. Buy as near home as possible, and insist on
quality. Poor quality means high mortality.
CLEAN BROODER HOUSES
A clean brooder house is indispensable. Always clean the
portable brooder house before it is moved to clean land. Re-
move all the movable equipment and brush ceiling and walls
of the house. Scrub the lower parts of the walls and floors
with a brush or broom, and a pail of water to which concen-
trated lye has been added (one pound of lye to forty gallons
20 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
of water). Next, spray the interior of the house with a good
coal tar disinfectant. Clean and disinfect all equipment.
Land is generally considered clean for the purpose of rais-
ing chicks when no chicks have been allowed to run on it for
a period of at least one year, and when no poultry manure
has been spread upon it for that length of time. A two or
three-year rotation is even more desirable. If clean land is
not available, raise chicks in confinement. Battery brooder
houses with wire floors inside and outside are now being used
more and more. The chicks are allowed to run on hardware
cloth for a period of three to ten weeks.
For normal growth and development of baby chicks, proper
feeding of a balanced ration is necessary. A balanced ration
usually includes mash, scratch, greens, grit, shell, charcoal
and water. Milk is a very valuable asset to chick ration.
SEPARATION OF PULLETS FROM COCKERELS
Since the normal development of pullets is of paramount
importance, they should not be crowded, therefore the cock-
erels should be removed to separate pens.
The average mortality in 1930 was 141/4%, but on farms
where the above program was adopted the average was only
91/ %. When chick mortality was 8% the matured birds laid
an average of 168 eggs, and hen mortality was only 9%; but
in the case of where chick mortality was 35%, hen mortality
was 13% and egg production was 140 eggs per year. The
profit per bird, where chick mortality was 8%, was 806
greater than where the mortality was high.
There are several types of brooder houses, depending on
the heating system used. Most generally used, though, is
a wooden house with wood or concrete floors. Oil brooders
are found on the general farm. A house 10 by 12 feet will
take care of 225 chicks. Most brooder houses have sun
porches; this gives the chicks a chance to take a sun bath in
Incubation: There are two types of incubation: natural and
artificial. Natural hatching with hens is practiced generally
when only a few chicks are to be raised.
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
In natural incubation, one of the first considerations is
that the setting hen be in good physical condition. She should
be healthy and free of parasites. It is a good practice to treat
the hen for lice before putting her on the eggs.
Make the nest in a secluded, dry, well-ventilated place,
away from the rest of the birds. If a box or barrel is used,
it is advisable to put a few inches of sand in the bottom. This
helps to hold moisture. In case the hen is to be put on the
ground, dig out a shallow hole, then use hay, straw, excelsior,
etc., and arrange so that the eggs will not roll out, spread too
far apart or pile up on top of each other.
Generally, from twelve to eighteen eggs are put under the
hen, depending on her size. Remove the hen to the new quar-
ters at night. For the hen's convenience and comfort, provide
near at hand, fresh, clean water, scratch feed and some green
feed. Some mash may also be put in a trough within her
The hen has been largely replaced by the incubator for
hatching chicks even on the general farms, for Government
reports show that close to 96% of all chickens raised in the
United States in 1950 were produced by hatcheries.
Candle the eggs on the seventh day. Remove all infertile
eggs and all eggs with dead germs. Candling is done by hold-
ing the egg in the dark over a hole through which a light is
shining. This enables one to determine the condition of the
contents of the eggs.
Ninety-six hatcheries in Florida, with a capacity of 4
million hatching eggs, produced more than 20 million baby
chicks in the year 1950.
Artificial Incubation: The trend is more and more toward
hatching eggs artificially. There are many types of incuba-
tors on the market, most of them satisfactory. When a great
many chicks are to be raised, the incubator is most economical.
By using an incubator, chicks can be hatched at any time.
Purchase a good machine and follow directions as recom-
mended by the manufacturer.
Place the incubator in a well-ventilated room, one in which
the temperature can be controlled. In many cases it is more
desirable and actually more economical to have eggs hatched
at a hatchery.
FEEDS AND FEEDINGS
The food eaten by a chicken is used to replace worn down
tissues, to provide materials for growth and storing of fat and
other tissues and to reproduce its kind. A bird's complex
22 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
composition, as well as its egg, suggests the nature of feed it
needs. Its body consists of water, minerals, proteins, carbo-
hydrates, fats and various other organic substances. The egg
is made up of albumen and yolk. Albumen contains over 87%
of water and nearly 11% of protein. Yolk is more complex
than albumen and contains about 50% of water and about
49.5% of solids-egg oil, 61.1%, protein, 32.3% fats, 1.1%,
minerals and other substances. It is also rich in vitamins A,
B, D, G. Eggshell consists largely of calcium. The feed re-
quired by chickens must contain those substances in varying
quantities and proportions, according to the age of the par-
ticular bird and the purpose for which it is fed.
High Heavy Breed Hen-26th Egg Laying Contest, Chipley-316 Eggs
In the development of body tissue and in the production of
eggs, the relative value of the feed needed by chickens depends
somewhat on its composition and digestibility. Practically all
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 23
staple grains and green plants used in poultry feeding have
an abundance of carbohydrate and fats, all contain some min-
erals, most of them are deficient in protein, and many are
deficient in vitamins. The staple grains-corn, wheat, barley,
oats-contain about 10% or 12% of protein, but they are low
in ash content. The so-called concentrated feeds-meat scrap,
fish meal and gluten meal-are naturally rich in protein but
poor in carbohydrates. Because chickens need relatively
large quantities of various minerals, such feeds as oyster shell,
ground limestone and raw bonemeal are of particular value
as they are rich in minerals. Various poultry feeds differ so
much in composition that some variation is necessary, if
chickens are to have a proper balance of the various elements
Among the many practices in poultry raising, probably
the variations in rations is the greatest, be it for growing
chicks, market poultry, laying hens, or breeding stock. Al-
though many farmers and commercial poultrymen use widely
different rations for the different classes of stock, there are
certain fundamentals in feeding which must be followed in
order to get best results.
Regularity is a most important requisite in satisfactory
feeding. Growing chicks and market poultry, as well as lay-
ing and breeding stock, must be fed regularly, or satisfactory
results cannot be obtained.
Palatability and freshness of the ration is another requi-
site, and this means providing variation, both as to grain and
bulky food. While variety is desirable, both the scratch and
the mash rations may be rather simple, using principally the
grains most readily obtainable.
The effect of feed upon the product gives occasion for
study. Yellow corn, for instance, produces yolk darker in
color than does white corn. Certain feeds give flavor to eggs,
as onions and geranium leaves. If broilers or roasters are
fed cod-liver oil up to killing time, the poultry has a distinctly
FEEDING CHICKS AND YOUNG STOCK
Baby Chicks: In the early life of the baby chick, no better
feed can be given than milk; poultry specialists recommend
it in place of water. Whole milk, skim milk, buttermilk, pro-
vide both food and drink for two or three days. Where milk
is not available, finely chopped, hard-boiled eggs can be sub-
stituted, one egg being enough for 30 baby chicks. After
this, feed every three hours all the chicks will eat in ten
24 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
minutes of a mixture of rolled oats and corn grits. Also, in
the early days of the young chick, a chick starter may be fed.
As the chicks get larger, add cracked wheat and corn to their
feed. By the time they are ten days old, they should have a
growing mash always within reach. A good growing mash
can be made by mixing together three parts of the mash that
is fed to laying hens and one part of wheat bran.
A tempting treat from Florida's poultry industry.
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 25
TABLE 1-SUGGESTED PEANUT MEAL RATION
Chick Mash (Alabama) Laying Mash (Alabama)
52 lbs. yellow corn meal 71 lbs. yellow corn meal
20 lbs. wheat shorts 12 lbs. peanut meal
9 lbs. peanut meal 17 lbs. dried skim milk (1)
5 lbs. alfalfa leaf meal (2) 7 lbs. bonemeal
13 lbs. dried buttermilk 1 lb. salt
2% lbs. bonemeal
%4 Ibs. oyster shell
(1) If skim milk or buttermilk is available at rate of one
gallon for 50 hens, the dried skim milk may be omitted.
(2) Alfalfa leaf meal may be omitted if the chicks have some
green feed daily.
TABLE 2-FLORIDA CONTEST RATION
Feed Formulas Used at Chipley Egg Laying Contest
100 lbs. bran
100 lbs. shorts
100 lbs. yellow corn meal
100 lbs. ground oats
70 lbs. soybean oil meal
25 lbs. alfalfa leaf meal
20 lbs. meat scraps (55 percent protein)
15 lbs. fish meal
10 lbs. dried whey
10 lbs. steamed bone meal or defluorinated superphosphate
7 lbs. ground oyster shell
3 lbs. salt
100 lbs. whole yellow corn
200 lbs. wheat
100 lbs. oats
TABLE 3-SUGGESTED ALL-MASH CHICK RATION*
Yellow corn meal
Ground barley ---.--.-
Ground oats --------
Soybean oil meal, peanut
meal, or corn gluten meal
Soybean oil meal
Fish meal ------- ..
Meat scraps ---- -----
Dried whey ----.------
Alfalfa leaf meal -----
Dried distillers solubles --
Steamed bonemeal or de-
fluorinated phosphate --
Ground shells (oyster, clam
or coquina) --- -----
Salt ----- --- ....-
Add 0.1 percent of vitamin
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs.
36 36 36 36 40
-- 36 10 46 -- 10
-- -- -- -- 36 -
5 5 ---- --- 5 -- 5 ---
5 5 5 5 --
5 5 5 5 5 5 5 10
10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
20 20 20 20 20 20 20 24
- 3 -- -- -- -- .. 2
3 -- 3 3 3 3 3
3 3 3 3 3 6 5
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 --
3 3 3 3 6 3 5
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
A and D feeding oil for
26 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
TABLE 4-LAYING RATION WITH MILK
When the farm has all the milk the chickens will drink,
the following ration can be used:
100 lbs. Corn Meal (Yellow) 3 Ibs. Corn
100 lbs. Ground Oats 1 lb. Wheat
100 lbs. Wheat Bran
100 lbs. Wheat Shorts
TABLE 5-ALL-MASH LAYING RATION
No Grain to be Fed
Yellow Corn Meal .-...---
Shorts (Wheat) --- -----
Oats, Fine Ground
Meat Scraps (55%)
Alfalfa Leaf Meal (Dehydrated)
Corn Gluten Feed ---------
Buttermilk --. ---------.-
Linseed Meal -. -----------
Steamed Bonemeal -....- ..--
Charcoal ------. ----------
Cod-liver oil must be added
not have plenty of sunshine.
to the above
if the hens do
TABLE 6-BROILER MASH
Yellow Corn Meal 35 Parts by
Ground Wheat -- ------ ----- 20 Parts by
Corn Gluten Meal 9 Parts by
Dried Buttermilk 9 Parts by
Meat Meal 9 Parts by
Rice Bran 10 Parts by
Oyster Shells .....- -. -------- 3 Parts by
Alfalfa Leaf Meal ----------- 2 Parts by
Yeast --------- 2 Parts by
Salt ..----------------- 1/2 Parts by
SUGGESTED FATTENING RATION
Corn Meal ---..------------------ 6 Pounds
Rolled Oats ....--------------------- 3 Pounds
Middlings ----------------------- Pound
The following suggestions are made by the Florida Agri-
cultural Extension Service, as facts that will help poultry
keepers to figure their feed requirements.
It takes 21/ lbs. to 4 lbs. of feed to produce a pound of
poultry meat; 5 lbs. to 7 lbs. to produce a dozen eggs.
Each chick will eat about one pound of feed during the
first 4 weeks of its life; 3 pounds during the second 4 weeks;
and 4/2 pounds during the third 4 weeks.
Each pullet from birth to maturity (24 weeks) eats about
25 pounds of feed. White Leghorns will eat a little less, New
Hampshire, Rhode Island Reds and other heavy breeds will
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 27
eat a little more. One layer will consume about 7 pounds of
feed in a month, or 84 pounds in a year.
For Quality Pullets do these things-
(1) Hatch early
(2) Use clean eggs and chicks
(3) Provide a clean brooder house
(4) Use clean land
(5) Feed a balanced ration
(6) Separate pullets from cockerels
Produce, Maintain and Sell Quality Eggs
(1) Feed a well balanced ration
(2) Provide one nest for every 5 hens
(3) Use clean nesting material
(4) Keep hens out of nests at night
(5) Break up broody hens promptly
(6) Produce infertile eggs
(7) Gather eggs at least twice daily
(8) Keep eggs cool
(9) Grade all eggs for size and quality
(10) Market eggs at least twice a week.
GREEN FEED OR PASTURE FOR POULTRY
Many poultrymen say from experience that green feed
provides as much as 1/3 of the feed consumed by a flock of
birds. A study made by Varn of the Florida College of Agri-
culture on 60 Florida farms showed that mortality was 5.3%
lower on farms where green feed was provided the flock the
entire year than the mortality where no green feed was pro-
vided. His study also showed that the hens when provided
green feed produced eggs valued at $2.33 per bird over feed
cost while those receiving no green feed produced eggs valued
at $191 over feed cost. This was an added income of 42 per
bird for those getting green feed over those receiving no green
METHODS OF FEEDING COMPARED
Four methods of feeding grain to laying pullets were tested
over a 2-year period at the Main Station, Gainesville, and the
Egg Laying Test, Chipley. They were as follows-
(1) Mash self-fed, grain mixture once in litter in evening.
(2) Mash self-fed, grain mixture in hoppers in evening.
(3) Mash self-fed, grain mixture in hoppers all day.
(4) Mash self-fed, corn, wheat and oats in hoppers all day.
Mehrhof and Stanton concluded after the first test was
completed that all four methods appeared to give satisfactory
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Courtesy Florida Agricultural Extension Service-U. of Fla.
Picture showing two trappers bringing in eggs. Also police watch dog.
egg production. When lights and moist mash were used, best
results were obtained with the lot which had mash self-fed
and grain in the litter once in the evening.
There were no large differences in egg weight, body
weight and mortality.
A greater percentage of grain was consumed in lots re-
ceiving grain in hoppers all day. Considerable variation
occurred in the proportion of oats, corn and wheat consumed
during the different periods and the average for the year.
Feed cost per dozen eggs approximately the same in the
four lots in the Main Station trials. In the Egg Laying Test
trials the feed cost per dozen eggs was lowest with the birds
hand-fed grain in litter once a day and highest with the birds
self-fed the grain mixture and self-fed corn, wheat and oats
As a result of the trials it would appease for any of the
methods tested may be recommended for feeding laying
The Egg-Laying Test plant has 52 two-thirds span, open-
front 12' x 14' houses. Each house has a double yard, so that
rotation of runs and growth of succulent green feed is possible.
At close of each test all houses and equipment are thor-
oughly cleaned, scrubbed and disinfected. Cypress shavings
were used as litter in each house.
Dry laying mash, grit, oyster shell and water were avail-
able in open-type feeders and waterers at all times.
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
Crumbly mash, fed once a day around noon, was made by
taking approximately 45 pounds of regular laying mash and
adding 18 pounds of E-emulsion semi-solid buttermilk and
enough water to make it crumbly. This amount was fed
daily to all birds in the test.
Grain was fed in V-shaped troughs each evening. The
amount of grain used was determined by the weight, appetite
and production of the birds. Approximately 10 pounds of
grain were fed each 100 birds daily.
Green feed in the form of oats in winter and soybeans,
cowpeas and Bermuda grass in summer was available in the
The birds were confined to the houses for half a day from
October to July. The last three months the birds were not
confined and had access to the yards all day. Rotation of
yards was practiced during the fall and winter, but during
the summer the birds had access to both yards at all times.
Morning lights were used. Lights were turned on gradu-
ally at the start of the test until time was working back to
3:30 A.M. (CST) and were continued at this hour until the
first of March, when they were tapered off and discontinued
by the middle of April. Lights were again turned on at
3:30 A.M. by the middle of August and continued until the
end of the test.
The daily routine of managing the birds during the 25th
Test starting at 6:30 A.M. and making rounds every one
hour to one hour and a half was as follows:
1. Clean and refill water vessels. Check trapnests.
2. Trapnests, check on mash, grit and shell.
4. Feed crumbly mash.
5. Clean and refill water vessels, trapnest, open doors to yards.
7. Trapnest, collect all eggs.
8. Feed grain and lock houses.
All birds were carefully observed during the rounds for
any sickness or presence of parasites. Sick birds were re-
moved to the hospital.
All broody birds were placed in broody coops in the house.
All egg records in this test were based on the original
number of birds entered and on the point system (weight of
30 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
EGG PRODUCTION PER PEN AND ENTIRE TEST
Egg production per hen (13 pullets) and the average for
the entire test, either by breeds or for all pens, was calcu-
lated on the original number of pullets placed in the houses.
In the 25th Test average egg production for the 50 weeks
was 209.0 eggs per bird, with an average egg weight of slightly
over 24 ounces per dozen.
COMPOSITION OF FEEDS
gen- Fat, or
Dry Crude Crude Free Ether
FEED Matter Ash Protein Fiber Extract Extract
Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent
Grains and Seeds
Corn 87.1 1.3 9.3 1.9 70.3 4.3
Wheat 89.4 1.8 12.3 2.4 71.1 1.8
Wheat Screenings 89.8 3.9 13.3 7.4 61.1 4.1
Oats ------- 92.3 3.5 12.5 11.2 60.7 4.4
Barley 90.4 2.9 12.8 5.5 66.9 2.3
Rye 90.5 1.9 11.1 2.1 73.7 1.7
Emmer (spelt) 91.3 1.5 14.9 2.1 68.5 2.5
Kafir 90.6 1.6 11.1 2.1 72.6 3.2
Milo ------- 89.3 2.8 10.7 2.4 70.5 2.9
Feterita --- 89.2 1.5 11.5 1.2 71.7 3.2
Durra 90.1 2.0 10.1 1.7 72.8 3.5
Shallu 90.3 1.6 12.5 1.7 71.1 3.4
Buckwheat 87.4 2.0 10.0 8.7 64.5 2.2
Soybeans ---- 93.6 4.8 39.1 5.2 25.8 18.7
Sunflower seed 93.8 4.2 15.9 28.6 21.1 24.0
Hempseed 92.0 2.0 10.0 14.0 45.0 21.0
Flaxseed 90.8 4.3 22.6 7.1 23.2 33.7
Broomcorn -. 88.2 2.9 10.2 8.2 63.5 3.4
Millet 89.2 3.6 12.1 8.4 61.0 4.1
Wheat bran --- 90.4 5.9 16.2 8.5 55.6 4.2
(shorts) ---- 89.9 3.5 16.3 4.3 61.6 4.2
Flour middlings 89.3 3.7 17.8 4.7 58.1 5.0
"Red Dog" flour- 89.9 2.9 17.2 3.1 61.9 4.8
Wheat flour --- 87.7 .5 10.9 .4 74.6 1.3
Corn meal or chop 88.7 1.3 9.3 2.3 72.0 3.8
Corn-and-cob meal 84.4 1.5 8.3 6.8 64.4 3.4
Hominy feed -- 91.7 2.9 10.9 4.6 65.6 7.7
Corn bran ---- 89.7 2.4 9.9 10.4 59.7 7.3
Gluten meal --- 90.9 1.1 35.5 2.1 47.5 4.7
Gluten feed --- 91.3 2.1 25.4 7.1 52.9 3.8
Oatmeal or rolled
oats 92.1 2.0 16.0 1.5 66.1 6.5
Ground oats --- 89.2 3.3 12.1 9.9 59.2 4.7
Barley meal --- 90.7 2.7 11.5 4.6 69.8 2.1
(dried) ----- 93.2 3.6 26.9 14.3 41.4 7.0
Malt sprouts --- 92.2 5.7 25.9 12.4 46.9 1.3
dlings ----- 88.5 4.5 27.5 4.2 45.3 7.0
(prime) ---- 93.1 5.9 38.8 12.2 29.4 6.8
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 31
COMPOSITION OF FEEDS (Cont.)
gen- Fat, or
Dry Crude Crude Free Ether
Matter Ash Protein Fiber Extract Extract
Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent Percent
Grains and Seeds (Cont.)
(0. P.) ----------- 91.1
Soybean meal --. 93.9
(0. P.) ----- 92.7
(Above 45%)- 94.0
Feeds of Animal Origin
Meat scrap --.-. 92.9
Blood meal --- 90.3
Fish meal --- 92.9
Fish bone --- 69.6
Bonemeal ---- 92.8
Pork cracklings -_ 95.0
Tankage -----. 92.4
Skim milk --- -- 9.4
Dried milk (but-
termilk) .---_. 90.4
Whey _------ 6.2
Dried skim milk- 91.7
Green Feeds, etc.
Mangel beets -- 8.8
Rutabagas .--. 11.4
Turnips ----- 9.4
Alfalfa hay (dried) 91.7
Alfalfa meal -- 91.2
Clover hay (dried) 87.1
Alfalfa (green) -_ 27.1
Rape ------- 16.7
Kale -------- 11.3
Source: U.S.D.A. Bulletin 1541.
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ESSENTIAL FOOD NUTRIENTS FOR
Carbo- Corn, oats, wheat mid-
hydrates dlings, bran, etc.
Fats Corn, barley, etc.
Proteins Milk, meat scraps, fish
meal, soybean meal,
cottonseed meal, pea-
Minerals Bonemeal, marble
grit, ground lime-
stone, salt, oyster
Vitamin A Green feed, milk, yel-
low corn, etc.
Furnishes fuel for
Furnishes fuel for
Promotes growth by
building muscle tis-
sues, feathers, etc.
Builds bones, blood,
aids digestion, etc.
Helps prevent nutri-
tional troubles, such
as group and colds;
develops yellow color
Vitamin B Grain, milk, leaves Aids growth
Vitamin D Direct sunshine, milk, Prevents rickets
cod-liver oil, shark oil
Vitamin E Grains and green
Loss of body weight,
Loss of body weight,
Failure to grow
Weak, under devel-
oped bones, digestive
Pale shanks; roup and
Rickets or leg weak-
Failure to reproduce
Source: Circular 151, Alabama Polytechnic Institute.
FEEDING AND CARING FOR GROWING PULLETS
Though the chick period is fraught with a multitude of
dangers, if proper care is observed, the owner finds his young
birds growing up into chickens before he hardly realizes it.
He should separate cockerels from pullets as soon as sex can
be determined. As the former more frequently are grown as
broilers, their treatment is different from that of pullets
being prepared to produce eggs.
Having separated the pullets, they should be placed in
their permanent laying quarters two or three weeks before
the laying of the first egg, put on a laying ration, and allowed
to settle down to prepare for a long and profitable laying
period. Because of climatic conditions in Florida, laying
quarters are not so limited as in northern states. Pullets here
should have some range. In searching for part of their food,
they secure needed exercise. But care should be exercised
that this range is not too extensive and that it is sufficiently
removed from any disturbances which might unnecessarily
excite the pullets. They should be so fed and cared for that
they will grow and fatten. This is the period for them to
take on flesh and develop big and strong bones. Soon they will
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
be laying, and the good layer certainly needs a reservoir of
fat and tissue to call upon.
A suitable and adequate range for pullets should be:
1. Free of diseases and parasites.
2. Maintained exclusively for growing pullets. Keep out
3. Capable of providing an abundance of green feed.
4. Large enough that the birds will get plenty of exercise
5. Adequate shelter as protection against hot sunshine and
Ranges should be rotated from year to year, if possible.
This helps to keep down diseases and insect pests. The old
maxim, "Cleanliness is Godliness," certainly is true in the
poultry business. It pays, too. Droppings or litter from
brooders or laying houses, or other places, may bring on no
end of trouble. Contaminated ground around the ranges or
roosting shelters, and feeding and drinking equipment, is haz-
ardous. Some danger from pests is lessened if the birds are
allowed to roost in range shelters during the summer. This
is stressed, as it is good practice to put pullets on the clean
range lots where there is no soil or other contamination and
where they can have plenty of room to exercise.
Ground around feeders and water troughs is often the
worst on the pullet range. Here droppings accumulate, and,
as there is always some feed on the ground close to the feeders,
the chickens eat large quantities of filthy soil in their attempt
to secure this feed. Likewise, around the drinking trough
there may be filthy puddles of water, from which the birds
drink, rather than from clean drinking receptacles. Or, if
the soil around the trough is only slightly moist, as is usually
the case, the birds will eat this wet filth. Moving the feeding
and drinking equipment every few days goes far towards
avoiding these dangers.
Naturally, what has been said above with reference to
caring for pullets, applies to the care that should be given to
all birds, especially laying hens.
FEEDING FOR EGG PRODUCTION
When fed a balanced ration, hens of good breeding will
produce a dozen eggs with a feed consumption of six (6)
pounds or less, while it will take more of an unbalanced ration
to produce a dozen eggs. Tests show that a hen can produce
34 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
-- - --. - ---.---.-
Courtesy Florida Egg Laying Contest
A Poultryman's Best Friend Keeps Varmints Away
only about eighty eggs per year when fed only corn or other
grain as a ration. The grain contains an excess of fat-pro-
ducing elements and a deficient amount of protein-forming
A balanced poultry ration for layers should contain ap-
proximately 20% protein, and it should be from both the vege-
table and animal source. Though grains contain some protein,
it is not concentrated enough, therefore the animal form, like
meat scrap, fish scrap or milk, must be used as a supplement.
On many general farms and dairy farms, skim milk is the
most logical source of protein as well as one of the very best.
Four gallons of skim milk or buttermilk for each 100 birds
will give them all the protein they will need. Where milk is
not available, meat scrap or fish meal is the next best source
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
Lime is necessary for the keeping up of the framework of
the hen's body and to supply the calcium necessary to form
the egg shell. Roughly, 10% of the weight of the egg is lime.
Oyster shell, clam shells or coquina shell, finely ground, is one
of the best sources for Florida poultrymen and should be kept
in open hoppers before the hens at all times. Common salt
will supply the sodium and the chloride the hen needs and can
be added at rate of one-half pound to 100 pounds of mash.
SOME CAUSES OF FAILURE IN POULTRY BUSINESS
Prof. N. R. Mehrhof
1. Poor stock.
2. Diseases and Parasites.
3. Lack of Good Business Management.
4. Poor or no Records.
5. Waste of Labor.
7. Failure to Keep up with Times.
8. Poultry Enterprise too Small.
9. Acts of Providence.
TOTAL COST OF PRODUCING EGGS
1. Feed per doz. eggs x Price of Feed
7 x 5 cents=58 cents
Percent Production to Pay Feed Bill.
2. Price of 100 lbs. of feed x 3
Price of 1 doz. eggs
500 x 3=25%
COST OF PRODUCING EGGS
Feed -_------------... 60%
Man Labor ...--- ---- 17%
Depreciation of Birds --- 10%
All Other Costs ----- 13%
2,500 Layers per man.
200 Eggs per bird per year.
60 Winter Eggs per Bird.
10% Mortality or less.
210 Eggs per 100 Ibs. Feed.
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
VITAMIN CONTENT OF POULTRY FEEDSt
Corn, white ----
Corn gluten meal
Hominy feed --- (
Soybean oil meal -
Wheat bran ----
Wheat germ ..-- -
Wheat middlings -
Buttermilk, dried -
Skim milk, dried -
Whey, dried ---
Whole milk -.---
Cod-liver oil .---
Fish meal ----
Meat scrap ----
Alfalfa, green -
Alfalfa, sun cured
Clover, green ---
Grasses, green --
Cabbage, green leaves
Carrots, yellow --
Liver, dried ----
Explanation of Table-
0 indicates none or no a
** 1 indicates increase
- indicates evidence of
A B C D E G
0 ** 0 0 ** *
0 ** 0 0 *
0 ** 0 0 *
:!* ***:! 0 0 ** *
0 ** 0 0 ** *
- ** 0 0 *
0 *o 0 0 ** *
0 to *
0 to *
0 to *
- 0 to **
) to *
** 0 ** ** ***
0 **** 0 0 0 ***
**** 0 0 0 0 0
t Extension Bulletin No. 222, Cornell University.
.ppreciable amount of vitamin.
sing amount of vitamins.
vitamin content lacking or insufficient.
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
SUMMER RANGE AND SHELTER
Many poultrymen prefer to have open ranges and build a
shelter for protection against rain and sun. In this way the
range can be plowed and receive the direct benefit of the sun
rays, which is not possible if there are many trees. These
shelters are built light so they can be moved to new ground.
They are about 8 feet by 10 feet, with wire on four sides,
perches and wire floor (one-inch poultry wire).
pijjyw ** '*.'"" fs- *n
____mE ____ l2l. l-- ..
Inside Laying House
HOUSING THE PULLETS
When the pullets are fully mature and begin to show signs
of wanting to lay, they should be removed from the range
and put into permanent laying quarters. It is always best to
get pullets into the permanent winter laying quarters several
weeks before they begin to lay, and they should not be moved
after beginning to lay, as any disturbance causes a falling-off
in egg production, or even causes a false molt. The range
around the laying house for pullets should be clean and not
one that was occupied by old hens. The laying house should
be cleaned and disinfected before the pullets are placed in it,
much after the style already described for the brooder house.
38 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
TABLE 9-GREEN FEED FOR POULTRY
Crop Kind or variety preferred
in order named
Pasture Lespedeza( common) Carpet
grass, Bermuda grass, Clover
(White Dutch, Calif., Bur.,
cabbage Any variety
Collards True Ga. White
Kale Imperial Long Standing,
Mustard Southern Giant Curled.
Chinese Broad Leaved
Rape Dwarf Essex
Carrots Improved Long Orange,
Red Cored Chantenay,
Danvers Half Long
Rye Fla. or Ga. Black
Cowpeas Brabham, Iron
Oats Hastings 100-Bushel
Millet Cattail or Pearl
Peanuts Fla. Runner
Napier Elephant, Merker or Napier
grass are all the same
Swiss chard Giant Lucullus
Lettuce Chicken Lettuce, Grand
Amount of When to How soon
seed to plant Plant available
per acre, lbs. after
or bushel as planting
Mar. to Nov. 3-6 months
10-20 Ibs. Mar. to Nov. 3-6 months
4-6 lbs. Oct. to Nov. 3 months
1/ lb. Sept.-March 45 days
1 lb. Any season 50 days
8 lbs. August-Apr. 45 days
5 lbs. Sept.-Oct. 40 days
15 lbs. Sept.-Jan. 40 days
Aug. to Mar. 75-90 days
S/4-11 bu. Oct. to Dec. 50 days
1% to 1 bu. Mar. to Sept. 50-70 days
2-4 bu. Oct. to Dec. 45 days
10-20 lbs. April to July 60-90 days
Mar. to June
Feb. if roots
July if canes
Sept. to Mar.
Oct. to Mar.
' to '/ bu. Mar. to June 60 days
Rape may be sown in with oats and rye if rich, moist land is used.
Millet: If for pasture, plant broadcast; if to be cut, plant in rows 3 to 4 feet
apart, drilling seed in row.
Napier grass: Set divided root clumps 2 feet apart in 4 to 6 foot rows or stick
3-joint-length canes in prepared ground at 45 degree angle, leaving top joint sticking
out of ground.
To get the most succulent and palatable feed, the crops mentioned must be kept green
and growing, which means in most instances liberal amounts of fertilizer must be
used, and a succession of plantings of most crops should be made. Most any good
truck crop fertilizer applied at the rate of 400 to 600 pounds per acre a week or 10
days ahead of planting, and side or top dressings of quick-acting nitrogenous fertilizer
as the plant indicates a need for nitrogen, will be found satisfactory.
Table prepared by W. E. Stokes, F. S. Jamison and J. Lee Smith, U. of Fla.
Most broilers and fryers were formerly produced by gen-
eral farmers or by commercial egg producers as a byproduct
when they raised young stock to replace the old hens in the
flock. This has been changed by specialized plants that pro-
duce broilers in commercial quantities.
Commercial broilers are raised by several methods, the
two most important seem to be (1) in batteries from start
to finish, or (2) on the floor for the entire time.
Broiler producers use two plans of operation. (1) Place in
the house a certain number each week, or (2) a certain num-
ber of lots per year. In the latter case the houses are filled
3 or 4 times a year or every 12 to 13 weeks.
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 39
Breeds-New Hampshires, Rocks and cross-breds (Red
Rock or N. H.-Rock cross) are generally used. In Florida at
present the New Hampshire is the popular broiler chick.
The kind of chicks used for broiler production depends
upon the location of the area.
Feeding Broilers-Broilers are generally started on all-
mash chick starter containing about 20% protein. Some use
regular broiler mash. Dry mash and water are kept before
the birds at all times. Some supplement dry mash with grain
Characteristics Identifying Layers and Non-Layers
Condition in a
Character Layer Non-Layer
Comb ------- Large, bright, red Dull, red, shriveled, scaly
Face ____-- Bright red Yellow tint
Vent --------------------- Enlarged, smooth, moist Shrunken, puckered, dry
Pelvic Bones ---- Thin, pliable, spread apart Blunt, rigid, close together
Abdomen ____------- Expanded, soft, pliable Contracted, hard, fleshy
Lateral Processes ___ Prominent, pliable Hard to find, stiff
Skin __.__.. _... .. Soft, loose Thick, underlaid with fat
Characteristics Indicating Whether Previous Production
Was Continuous or Brief
Condition Associated With
Character Continuous Laying Brief Laying
Vent ____ -- Bluish White Yellow tint or flesh color
Eye ring and ear lobe White Tinted with yellow
Beak __--------- White Tinted with yellow
Shanks ------- ----- White, rather flattened Yellow, round
Plumage --------------- Worn, soiled Not much worn
Molting __----- Late, rapid Early, slow
Culling should begin with the eggs and end at the block.
It is, properly, a continuous process. It is foolish to spend
time, money and energy with birds that will not and cannot
produce a reasonable profit.
It is necessary, if we are to cull successfully, that the flock
be properly managed. Good hens appear as culls if they have
not received proper rations and care. But be sure your own
methods are correct before you accuse your hens of being
slackers and nonproducers.
As a rule, culling of the laying flock is done during summer
and early fall, from July to November, when greater accuracy
is possible. It is well to examine the flock once a month,
especially from early summer until fall. By culling a differ-
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ent times, the poultryman is able to reduce his production
costs with each culling.
It is necessary in culling, to catch, handle and examine
each bird. Catching hooks, made of stiff wire, may be used
to advantage in picking up hens. It is most important to
handle the flock and individual birds without causing too much
There are a number of characteristics to consider care-
fully in culling. Weigh all of the following points and decide
whether or not the bird is fit for another year. It is not suffi-
cient to consider only one or two of these points.
The following comparisons have been worked out by poultry experts
and may be relied upon as a safe guide in culling:
Good Producer Has
Fine, pliable, expanded
Thin, flexible, well-
Bleached, lean, flat,
Moist, large, dilated
Poor Producer Has
Long, narrow, crow-
Small, shrunken, cov-
ered with white scales
Small, coarse, thick
Thick, hard, close
Fat, round, coarse-
Dry, small, hard
The most accurate method of learning the egg production
of the individual hen is by using trapnests. This will furnish
a daily record of performance for each bird. Many commer-
cial poultrymen trap a pen each year in order to select high
producers and those that lay eggs of desirable size, the right
shell texture and good quality. Trapnesting is absolutely
necessary on the breeding farm where pedigree stock is raised.
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 41
It involves more equipment and labor than can be expended
on the commercial flock, but a breeding pen can be maintained,
especially if the poultryman has a turn for this kind of work.
CHARACTERISTICS THAT DENOTE
Of course, the most important factor to consider in culling
is vigor and health; without these there can be very little hope
for good production. The birds should be large and strong and
active and have type. Those that show lack of vigor or are
under-size, should be removed from the flock and sold for meat.
Head and Adjuncts
The general appearance of the head is a good indication of
productiveness. The head of the producer is broad and fairly
short, with a well-curved beak. The face is clean-cut. The
poor producer's head is long, narrow, crow-shaped, and has a
long beak. Eyes in a good producer are full, round, prominent
arid bright, while in the nonproducer, eyes are sunken and dull.
Comb and wattles of the producer are well developed and
of fine texture, but in the poor producer, these parts are un-
developed and coarse. Condition of comb and wattles indi-
cates condition of the bird. The laying bird will have a comb
bright red in color, full and velvety to the touch; the non-
layer's comb and wattles are pale, shrunken and scaly.
Body Type or Conformation
To secure heavy egg production, it is important that the
bird have good body capacity for the consumption of large
quantities of feed and for manufacture of eggs. The heavy
producer has a long broad back which extends well to the rear
and has depth from back to keel. This depth should extend
well to the rear. Breast is full and deep.
The poor layer is narrow across the back and tapers
toward the rear, has a short keel and lacks depth in the ab-
dominal region. Breast is shallow and narrow. Spread of
pelvic bones and distance between pelvic bones and keel are
indications of quality. This spread varies with laying condi-
tions of the bird. The greater the spread or the deeper the
abdomen, the better.
The quality factors generally considered indicative of good
producers are a soft and pliable abdomen, fine velvety skin.
The poor producer has a hard, stiff abdomen, and the skin is
hard and coarse. The shanks of the good layer are refined,
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
flat and fine-scaled, while those of the poor producer are larger
and flat and round, with coarse scales. The pelvic bones in
the good producer are soft and flexible and wide apart, while
in the poor producer they are stiff and hard and close together.
The vent of the heavy producer is distended, moist and much
of the yellow pigment has been bleached out, and in the lower
producer the vent is smaller, drawn, dry and yellow.
The presence or absence of yellow in the bird's body is a
characteristic which assists the poultryman in learning about
the productiveness of the individual. In all yellow-skinned
varieties, before the birds start to lay they show yellow color
in beak, skin and shanks. This color comes from feed. If
the feed is yellow corn and plenty of green stuff, the yellow is
more pronounced than if white corn and little green fed are
In a nonlaying pullet, yellow color is found in the vent,
eye-ring, ear-lobe (in white ear-lobed breeds), beak and
shanks. As the bird commences to lay and manufacture egg
yolk, she absorbs the yellow pigment, which leaves the body
first in the vent. With continued laying, it leaves eye-ring,
ear-lobe and then beak. Color leaves the base of the beak
first, and fading, extends from the base to the tip. The lower
mandible bleaches out more rapidly than the upper. It takes
about four or six weeks of laying for the beak to bleach.
Finally, with continued laying, the yellow color leaves the
shanks; bleaching begins on the scales on the front of the
shanks first and then on the scales on the rear. It takes from
four to six months for the shanks to bleach out.
The rate of losing this yellow color varies with different
birds. Generally, the thicker the skin the longer the time
required for complete fading. Larger birds usually bleach
more slowly than smaller birds. As soon as the hen stops
laying, the color returns in the same order, but faster than
it disappeared; namely, vent, eye-ring, ear-lobe, beak, shanks.
When a hen stops laying, she usually goes into a molt,
which means a shedding or partial shedding of feathers. A
partial molt may occur at any season, but the body molt
usually occurs in summer and fall. Early (and slow) molters
are generally poor producers, while late (and quick) molters
are best producers. The early molter loses much more time
than the late molter and naturally is less profitable. Hens of
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA 43
different ages may or may not molt at the same season; it is
more a matter of condition and laying instincts. An indi-
vidual probably molts at approximately the same season each
year, beginning at about the same time but molting for a
longer period each succeeding year.
The molting of the primary wing feathers is of interest in
detecting vacation periods. The primary wing feathers are
separated from the secondary feathers by an axial feather.
When the hen stops laying, she usually drops the inner pri-
mary feather next to the axial feather first. If she remains
in nonlaying condition for two or more weeks, the second pri-
mary feather drops, and so on until the entire wing is molted.
It requires about six weeks to grow a new feather.
The poor producer drops one at a time and takes a long
time to complete the molt, perhaps 24 weeks. The good pro-
ducer may drop and restore a few feathers and start laying,
keeping the old primary feathers another season. In some
cases, she may drop a number at one time. Eight weeks may
be ample time for her to molt, and she may not delay that long.
COMMON POULTRY PARASITES
Parasite is the name given to any little animal or plant
living on, in or with other animals or plants at whose expense
it obtains its food, shelter, or some other advantage. Lice,
mites, and intestinal worms are called parasites because they
obtain their living from staying on or in poultry. Such para-
sites greatly harm poultry and reduce the profit in poultry
keeping. Young chickens will not grow and develop well, and
the hens will not produce many eggs when annoyed by these
The flock should be carefully watched, for these insects
are apt to appear at any time.
Lice: Lice are insects that stay and crawl about on the
body of the chickens. They do not suck the blood, but live
on the scurf of the body and feathers. Their whole life is
spent on the chicken's body. Consequently, any treatment
must be applied to the bird itself in order to kill the insects.
By applying a good lice powder, such as sodium fluoride,
several times during the year, the flock can be kept free from
lice. There are three methods of using sodium fluoride-the
pinch method, the dusting method, and the dipping method.
The pinch method is most commonly used. About seven
pinches distributed over the different parts of the body, head,
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
neck, under wings, on back, breast and' around the tail, soon
rid the bird of all lice. The dipping method is the most eco-
nomical and surest way of ridding a large flock of lice. This
method can be used on a warm, sunshiny day, when the wind
is not blowing. Put into a tub ten gallons of lukewarm water
in which has been dissolved ten ounces of powdered sodium
fluoride. As the water cools with dipping, add water and the
required amount of fluoride. Hold the bird with wings above
the back with the left hand and ruffle the feathers in the liquid
with the right. Submerge the head quickly twice, press water
out of feathers, and release the bird. Do not leave the liquid
standing in a galvanized tub as it will discolor it.
Dusting can be done by using a shaker, but a great deal
of powder is lost by this method, unless road dust or flour is
mixed with it.
Whatever the method, care should be taken to treat every
bird in the flock. A single bird overlooked, means a loss of
labor and money as the lice increase and spread rapidly from
one fowl to another.
Head Lice: They are found most often on little chicks on
the head parts. For treatment, use a little grease, free from
salt, to which a little kerosene has been added, or plain vase-
line is very good.
Mites: There are several species of mites. Most of them
are bloodsuckers living in the cracks and crevices of the
poultry houses, coops, and nests. They attack the birds at
night or during the day if the fowls are quiet and still, filling
themselves with blood and then returning to their hiding
Since these little pests live in the houses, nests, and coops
and not on the birds themselves, one must use a good dis-
infectant spray in order to reach the breeding places, and kill
these minute insects. All roosts, loose boards, and nests
should be removed and a disinfectant applied in the form of a
coarse spray, using a suitable pump. Creolin, creosote, crude
petroleum, or any coal tar product makes a good spray. Pure
kerosene or kerosene emulsion and carbolic acid are very
effective. Whatever preparation is used, every part of the
house, nests, roosts, and coops should be thoroughly sprayed,
and the birds kept out until the liquid has soaked well into
Dr. M. W. Emmel of the Florida Agricultural Experiment
Station, Gainesville, Fla., reported as follows: Chick lice (the
large and small body louse, shaft louse and fluff louse) were
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
completely eradicated from 10 farm flocks by feeding 5 per-
cent of dusting sulphur in the regular mash for a period of
three weeks, and scattering sulphur over the soil in the yards
at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet.
Sticktight fleas were completely controlled by a similar
procedure on eight farms.
Sulphur getting onto the external parts of the birds ap-
pears to be the important factor in this means of control.
The common chicken mite was controlled successfully on
eight farms by dusting sulphur about the house and on the
litter, dropping boards and nesting material.
Scaly Leg: This little mite attacks first the clefts between
the toes and gradually spreads forward and upward until the
whole foot and shank become affected. The continued irrita-
tion by the mites causes formation of a spongy or powdery
substance beneath the scales, which raises them more and
Smear or spray the roosts with a strong disinfectant in
order to destroy the breeding places of the scaly leg mite. The
birds having the trouble should be treated in the following
manner: Wash the legs with soap and water to remove loose
scales. Dry legs and apply kerosene and a little lard or vase-
line. Avoid getting the oil in the feathers at the joint, for it
will likely cause the feathers to fall out and sores to form.
DISEASES OF POULTRY
There are quite a number of diseases of poultry found in
Florida, and since this subject would require a volume in
itself, only brief mention can be made of those most common.
The old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure" is certainly true in the treating of disease in poultry.
A good axe and a chopping block is one remedy that should
be applied to those that show first symptoms. If the chick
program outlined in the front part of this bulletin is adhered
to, and then the birds are given good care and attention and
the houses and grounds are kept clean, there will be very little
trouble experienced unless disease is brought into the flock
from some outside source.
Diarrhea: Confused by many people as a disease, however,
it is a result of some cause, like getting too hot, too cold,
faulty feeding, or from internal parasite. The remedy is to
diagnose and eliminate the source of the trouble.
Pullorum Disease (White Diarrhea): The disease is caused
by a specific bacteria which is found in the chicken's body.
Eggs from chickens called carriers are infected and the young
46 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
chick, when hatched, will be diseased. No remedy is known,
therefore secure chicks and/or eggs from a flock free of this
disease. The adult birds must be blood-tested to find out if
they are free. The state carries on this work by providing a
veterinarian to make the test and accredit the flock.
Coccidiosis: This is the most fatal disease of chickens after
they have reached the age of two weeks. Coccidiosis is caused
by a protozoan organism that gains entrance to the chick's
body through the mouth with food or water. Adult birds
may be the carriers and spread the germs everywhere they go.
The ground may be infected with the disease from some previ-
ous infection. There is no effective treatment, but it can be
prevented by sanitation in the houses and by using a rotation
of grounds. In the young birds, symptoms are droopy wings
and ruffled wing feathers. The birds crowd together. One
of the best treatments for the chicks that show symptoms of
the disease is sour milk, buttermilk or semi-solid buttermilk
given to the chicks to drink, and also mixed with the mash.
Roup: Roup follows colds and is caused by a virus not as
yet isolated. The first symptom noted is a discharge from
the nasal passage similar to a cold. At first the discharge is
thin and watery, in a few days it becomes thick and gummy
and has a characteristic odor. The nasal passage becomes
so stopped until the chicks have to breathe through the mouth.
The membranes around the eyes become inflamed and swollen,
the eyelids become glued together with a thick, wax-like dis-
All sick birds should be removed from the flock and con-
fined in dry quarters free from drafts. The affected parts
should be bathed in a solution of potassium permanganate;
one teaspoonful to a pint of water is about the right strength.
Chicken Pox: Commonly called sore head; is found on the
unfeathered parts of the head in form of ulcer-like sores. The
flock can be immune to this disease by vaccination. The
vaccination should be done early in life, before the combs are
very much developed. Apply the vaccine on the leg about
two inches above where the feathers begin. At this place,
pluck five or six feathers and apply the vaccine, with a camel
hair brush, by dipping it into the solution and rubbing over
the place where the feathers were. If the farm is free of the
disease, it should not be introduced by vaccination.
DISINFECTANTS AND ANTISEPTICS
The Florida Agricultural Extension Service gives the fol-
POULTRY RAISING IN FLORIDA
A disinfectant is a substance which is capable of killing
micro-organisms. In disinfecting poultry houses, these points
should be kept in mind: (1) Use correct strength, (2) the
places to be disinfected should be clean, (3) preferably ap-
plied with a spray pump, and (4) since most disinfectants
are very irritating, the operator should protect the exposed
parts of his body.
Disinfectants should be thoroughly applied to the interior
of the houses and worked into cracks and crevices. All equip-
ment as well should be cleaned and disinfected.
Some of the more common disinfectants suggested are:
1. Coal tar disinfectants with a phenol coefficient 5 or
above which includes creolin, cresol, liquor cresolis compositus,
and others. A 2 percent solution is used for general pur-
poses (51/2 tablespoons in 1 gallon of clean water).
2. Lye. One can of household lye dissolved in 5 gallons of
hot water applied to the ceilings, walls and floors of the
poultry house destroys coccidia and other parasite eggs. An
old broom can be used to apply the lye solution; care should
be taken to prevent the fluid from coming in contact with the
hands and face. About 1 hour after the lye solution is applied
the house should be rinsed with hot water.
Antiseptics that may be used to help prevent the spread
of infection through the drinking water are:
1. Bichloride of mercury (6 to 7 grains-1 tablet in 1
gallon of water). Do not use metal containers.
2. Hypochlorite solution and other chlorine compounds.
Use as directed on containers.
GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE FOR POULTRYMEN
1. Florida Legislature passed an act in 1933 and amended
it in 1935 and in 1947 governing the sale of eggs in Florida,
and set up the U. S. Grades and Standards as Florida Stand-
ards. It also passed a companion act setting up standards
and grades for poultry and rules governing the sale of live
and dressed poultry in Florida. By this law the Commis-
sioner of Agriculture was named the enforcing officer. The
law has been enforced by the office of the Supervising In-
spector of the Florida Department of Agriculture through
egg inspectors employed for this purpose and located in
districts throughout the State.
2. The Legislature of 1943 passed an act, which became a
law, requiring dealers in farm and poultry products to post
a performance bond with the State, and placed the enforce-
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
ment of this law in the hands of the Commissioner of Agri-
culture for Florida.
3. The Livestock Sanitary Board, Tallahassee, Florida,
has charge of the carrying on of the work of the National
Poultry Improvement Plan, supervising the work of blood
testing and culling of flocks and hatcheries operating under
4. Disease diagnosis work is done by the Poultry Patholo-
gist of the Florida Experiment Station Veterinary Labora-
tory, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
5. Extension work is carried on by the Poultry Extension
Division of the University of Florida and is supervised by
the Extension Specialist, Poultry Laboratory, University of
Florida, Gainesville, Florida. For information on diseases
write the above.
6. Marketing aid is provided by the Marketing Specialist
of the Florida State Marketing Bureau, a division of the
Florida Department of Agriculture, located at Jacksonville,
7. The State Farmers' Markets also provide places where
farmers can sell their poultry and eggs. This is a division
of the Florida Department of Agriculture. Offices are in
Winter Haven, Florida, and they are supervised by the Mar-
8. Annual Poultry Institute is held at Camp McQuarrie
each summer and it is attended by close to 500 poultrymen.
Speakers on poultry subjects are present from all parts of
the country. They bring the latest information on production
and marketing subjects.
9. The Florida Legislature of 1957 created the Florida
Egg Commission, and gave it authority to carry on promotion
campaigns to increase egg consumption.
Turkeys Adapted to Florida
SINCE one of the two original varieties of wild turkeys
inhabited southern Florida, this shows that conditions
required for turkey breeding and developing have always been
present here. Even before the Spaniards first put foot on
American soil, the turkey was a domesticated bird, being per-
haps first used by the Aztecs of Mexico; from there it was
probably taken to Europe.
The turkey is America's only contribution to the domestic
fowl family, but what a fine contribution! This bird was
second choice of the Colonial fathers for the emblem of the
United States, the eagle being first choice and finally adopted.
For a long period of time very little attention was paid to
raising turkeys on the farms because they could be secured
by going to the woods and shooting them like other game.
That day passed away with the clearing of our forests of
land for cultivating and, as a result, turkey raising on the
farm for table purpose has developed on a large scale.
SIZE OF FLORIDA TURKEY CROP
The annual production of turkeys in Florida is possibly
190,000 head, with an annual value of over a million dollars.
Two methods of production are practiced. First, the range
method where the turkeys are allowed to roam over the farm
and the hens lay and hatch their eggs in nest and carry the
poults almost at will. The second method is known as the con-
finement system, where the eggs are usually set in incubators
Good Type Bronze Toms Used for Heading Breeding Flock
~, ~-~- ~
Typical farm flock of turkeys ranging on Bermuda pasture and land in summer fallow.
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING 51
and the poults raised under artificial conditions without the
aid of turkey hens.
TURKEYS FIT INTO FLORIDA FARM SYSTEMS
The peanut crop growing sections of Florida at the pres-
ent time are the range or farm side line turkey producing
areas. With a few exceptions, turkeys are produced on the
range in this section as this method fits into the crop rotation.
Nearly every farmer plants corn and peanuts in alternate
rows; the corn to harvest as such and the peanuts to be used
for hog and turkey feed. The land is fallowed the next year
and allowed to grow up in weeds and grass. These fields make
ideal turkey and poult ranges for they supply tender grass
and bugs and insects. Much of the land of this area is high,
,3L --2 ^.. -,
Young hen and torn turkeys, strong, vigorous, true to type selected in
early fall to be used as next year breeders.
52 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
sandy and rolling, all conducive to good healthy rearing con-
ditions. As Florida has a mild climate, practically no houses
are needed, only enough for shelter is used. The great variety
of crops, other than peanuts, grown in Florida furnishes a
variety of feeds, and the warm climate allows the pasture
crops for turkeys to grow the year around.
BREEDS OF TURKEYS
Practically all breeds are to be found in the State but most
growers seem to prefer the Bronze as more of these are grown
than any other one breed. Beltsville whites are growing in
popularity on many farms.
STANDARD BREEDS AND VARIETIES OF TURKEYS
J. S. Moore-Extension Poultryman
Six standard varieties of turkeys are recognized by the
American Poultry Association. These are: Bronze, Narra-
gansett, White Holland, Black, Slate and Bourbon Red. In
addition, a number of other varieties in recent years have
gained in popularity. Of these, the Broad Breasted Bronze
and the Beltsville Small White are the two most important.
The weights of the different varieties are as follows:
Variety Young Yearling Adult Young Yearling Adult
Bronze 16 18 20 25 33 36
Narragansett --- 14 16 18 23 30 33
Black 14 16 18 23 30 33
White Holland 14 16 18 23 30 33
Slate -14 16 18 23 30 33
Bourbon Red --- 14 16 18 23 30 33
Bronze --. -- 18 20 22 32 28 41
White -- -- 11% 12% 13 21 24 25
The added weight of the Broad Breasted Bronze is due to
more fleshing on the breast and thigh. The relative shorter
shanks and broader breast give the Broad Breasted Bronze
the appearance of a more blocky conformation than the up-
standing Bronze. The Broad Breasted Bronze has the same
general color pattern as the standard bred Bronze. At present
the term "Broad Breasted" is limited to a variety with mem-
bers having a breast at least 31/2 inches wide at a point 13/4
inches above the keel when selected for breeders.
The Beltsville Small White turkey was developed at the
U. S. D. A. Agricultural Research Center at Beltsville, Mary-
land, to fill the needs of the average family for a small family
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
The turkeys that you select to raise will depend on which
of the above varieties you like best after you have considered
which is generally grown in your community and the color,
type and size best suited for the market that you expect to
HOW TO START INTO TURKEY RAISING
There are three ways in which you can start into turkey
raising or enlarge your present turkey production: (1) Using
the mature birds that you now have on the farm, or the pur-
chasing of breeding stock, (2) the purchasing of hatching
eggs and incubating or having them incubated, (3) purchas-
ing day old turkey poults. The last method probably is the
most economical and the one most likely to lead to success.
If you plan to use the birds that you now have on the farm
as foundation stock, select them carefully and test them for
pullorum. Keep only the best ones. If you purchase breed-
ing stock obtain only the very best. These should come from
a breeder who has a pullorum-clean, well-bred, healthy flock.
Breeding stock of this type sell at good prices and in most
cases the average person will buy hatching eggs or poults
rather than expensive breeding stock. In the case of hatch-
ing eggs, you have the danger of a poor hatch if you have
not hatched turkey eggs before. Therefore, buying turkey
poults is, as mentioned before, the most economical and the
quickest way to get into turkey raising.
It is very important to get the very best turkey poults
available. These should be purchased from a breeder hatch-
eryman who has a well established pullorum-clean and Sinu-
itus-free strain. The breeders in his flock should have been
carefully selected for fast growth, early maturity and lack of
pin feathers at finish; and without any other undesirable char-
acteristics. The poults should be hatched in an exclusive
turkey hatchery under the best of sanitary conditions. Your
success or failure with turkeys can depend upon the kind of
poults that you get to start with. Get only the best.
WHEN TO START TURKEY PROJECT
The large Bronze turkeys and Broad Breasted Bronze tur-
keys mature, when properly fed throughout the year, in 26
to 28 weeks. The hens of these varieties will mature in 25
to 27 weeks and the toms in from 28 to 30 weeks.
In the case of the Beltsville Small White, these birds are
usually finished in 24 to 26 weeks. Therefore, since the ma-
jority of turkeys are grown and marketed for the Thanks-
54 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
giving and Christmas market, they should be started at a time
that will have them finished and in good market condition for
these markets. The months of April and May are the ideal
months to start turkey poults. The weather at this time is
usually good and the birds get off to a good start before ex-
tremely hot weather sets in, and they should be in prime con-
dition for the holiday market. Poults can be started in June
but they get off to a slow start and mortality of late poults
is usually much higher than earlier poults and they are not in
prime condition for the holiday market.
THE BROODER HOUSE
With the mild temperatures over most of Florida, the
brooder house for turkeys should not present too difficult a
problem. Almost any type house can be heated when neces-
sary, where ventilation can be controlled and that can be kept
dry can be used as a brooder house. Turkey poults can be
started in battery brooders and in small numbers in the farm
brooder described in the Florida Extension Circular 82. In
the case of the battery brooder they will have to be transferred
to a brooder house at 10 days to 2 weeks and in the farm
brooder to brooder house at 4 to 5 weeks.
Brooder houses can range in size from one large enough to
accommodate only 100 birds up to houses with several thou-
sand poults. If brooder houses are to be constructed, they
can be built along the same line as brooder houses for chick-
ens. Small houses with a capacity of from 150 to 250 poults
can be built either portable or stationary. However, since
sun porches are usually a necessary part of any turkey brooder
house, it is not necessary to make them portable. At least
one square foot of floor space must be allowed per poult in
the brooder house and about the same floor space should be
allowed on the sun porch. Ordinarily not over 250 poults
should be brooded in one unit or under one brooder stove.
However, in some of the large brooder houses over the country
500 poults are grown together under one stove for the first
two or three weeks. At this time all partitions or fences are
removed and all poults are given the run of the house. This
seems to work where all poults in the large house are the
same age. For the beginner, it is best to confine operations
to not more than 250 poults per unit until experience in brood-
ing has been gained.
Some houses on the farm might be converted for use as
brooder houses. I have seen old tenant houses, old barns and
even old machine sheds used. The important thing is a house
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
that can be heated, when, necessary, that will provide ventila-
tion without drafts and can be kept dry. The floor may be
either dirt, wood or concrete. Sun porches around a perma-
nent type house are a necessity. Sun porch floors may be
constructed of 1" x 1" or 1" x 2" welded wire or 1" x 4"
boards turned on edge 1" apart. The sides and top can be
made of 2" x 4" covered with ordinary poultry netting. Make
them high enough to work in satisfactorily, and far enough
off the ground to clean under as needed.
Litter or Wire Floors in Brooder Houses
Disease may be easier to control and the brooder house
can be kept more sanitary where wire floors are used. How-
ever, you have the added cost of the wire floors and in some
cases there is a tendency for a draft under this type floor.
Three fourths inch mesh hardware cloth can be used. Build
this floor in panels about two feet wide, using 1" x 4" boards
placed on edge for frames. Cross pieces should be set in every
two feet to keep the wire from sagging as the turkeys get
heavier in weight. The panels can be raised by using bricks
at intervals on the house floor in order to get cross ventila-
tion and to make for longer periods between cleaning.
Where a solid floor is used, dry plane shavings, dehydrated
cane pomace, peat moss or even clean dry sand may be used
as litter. Either type of floor should be covered with cloth
bags for the first week to ten days. This will protect the
poults from cold on wire floors and from eating litter on solid
Preparing the Brooder House
No matter what type house or method of brooding is used
for the raising of poults, sanitation and cleanliness are abso-
lute necessities. If for a small number the farm brooder is
used, it should be taken apart and thoroughly washed and
cleaned with lye water. Allow it to dry in the hot sun before
putting it back together. When it is dry, reassemble, put
clean dry sand in the brooding compartment and cover sand
for first few days with cloth bags.
Start the heating system, whether light bulb or kerosene
lamp, and run it for a few days to see that it will operate
properly. If you use battery brooders, carry out the same
thorough job of cleaning.
If you use a brooder house, large or small, clean out all
litter, dust and dirt that may be in the house. Sweep down
the wall and ceiling. Wash the entire house with hot lye
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
water, using about 1 can of lye to each 10 gallons of water.
Rinse the house with clean water and allow to dry and then
spray or paint with any good disinfecting agent. All of this
should be done well in advance of the arrival of the poults
to allow the house to air thoroughly. If wire floors are used,
clean these in the same thorough manner before putting them
back in the house. If the litter is used, spread 5 to 6 inches
deep over the entire floor. Round cut all corners of the
brooder room. See that ventilation in the room can be con-
trolled. In case of wire floor, cover with cloth bags for the
first week to ten days. Where litter is used, cover the portion
to be used by the poults for the next few days to keep them
from eating litter.
Selecting the Brooder Stove
Coal, oil, electric, gas and wood burning brooders can be
used where turkey poults are brooded on floor. The brooder
stove that you will select will depend upon availability and
cost of fuel and ease in operation. A coal burning brooder
stove would not be necessary in Florida, as it would produce
more heat than necessary and would be hard to regulate
during the day when the temperature naturally goes higher
outside. Oil brooders are easy to regulate, fuel can be easily
secured. However, there is always the fire hazard with oil
type brooders. Electric brooders are easy to operate and
control. Electric brooders, however, do not heat the whole
house, but heat only that portion under the canopy, the rest
of the house being cool. Moisture tends to collect where an
electric brooder is used and this tends to make for damp litter
in the house, unless the house is kept well ventilated. Where
electric current is available and reasonable in price, it would
pay to investigate the use of electric brooders in Florida. Gas
brooders are coming into use all over the country. Where
being used by turkey raisers they are proving very satisfac-
tory. They are easy to operate. They will give ample heat
when necessary, yet the heat can be lowered very easily.
There is very little fire hazard and in most cases they are
economical to operate. As with electric brocders, the ventila-
tion of the house must be watched to prevent the accumula-
tion of moisture.
Wood burning brooders are economical where green hard-
wood can be secured. They are relatively easy to operate,
but they are inclined to overheat the smaller type house.
Especially true in Florida, where warm weather prevails in
April and May.
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING 57
It would pay to investigate the oil, electric and gas brood-
ers before purchasing a new brooder. After studying each
type, select the one most nearly suited to your conditions.
Setting up the Brooder House
The brooder house is clean; the litter on wire floor is in
place; the corners of the brooder house have been rounded
out; the litter or wire floor has been covered with cloth bags;
the brooder has been selected and is now ready to set up and
Start the brooder and run it two or three days to see that
it will maintain a temperature of 950 2 inches above the floor
at the edge of the brooder house. In case of an electric
brooder the temperature should be 98. Put a cardboard or
wire guard around the brooder stove 18 to 24 inches away
from the edge of the hover. This guard should be 12 to 14
inches high. Its purpose is to keep the poults near the source
of heat for the first few days and to prevent them from piling
up in a corner.
Put the water founts and small chick feeders inside the
brooder ring or guard. Use one -gallon glass water fount
for each 40 to 50 poults and use one small 4-foot chick feeder
for each 50 poults. For 200 to 250 poults you will need a
minimum of five 1/-gallon water founts and four to five 4-foot
chick feeders. Place the water founts on boards to keep out
litter and never place them near any light under the brooder.
The poults tend to go toward the light and will sometimes
upset the jars.
For the first ten days fill the feeders with feed where it
can be easily seen by the poults. In addition to the feed in the
feeder, place feed on paper plates or egg case flats and place
at various points inside the brooder guard. Sprinkle some
fine grit, not more than a handful, around over the feed. Some
turkey growers sprinkle some light green alfalfa leaf meal
or fine cut-up green feed over the feed to attract the attention
of the poults to the feed. Bright colored marbles are some-
times placed in the feed to attract the attention of the poults
to the feed. Turkey poults, especially if they have been out
of the incubator for several hours before being fed, are some-
times hard to get started to eating. Anything that can be
done to attract the attention of the poults to the feed will
save many poults from starving to death.
You are now ready to place the poults under the brooder.
It is a good idea, as the poults are removed from the boxes,
58 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
to dip the beak of each poult in water and then into the feed
as they are put under the brooder. This may seem a little
old-fashioned, but once you have experienced the losing of
turkey poults due to starvation you will use every method
known to get them started to eating.
WEEK BY WEEK BROODING OPERATIONS
First Week. The temperature can be dropped to 920 by
the end of the week. However, it is more important to watch
the action of the poults than it is to watch the thermometer.
If the poults crowd together under the canopy, not enough
heat is being supplied. If they crowd to the brooder ring,
there is too much heat. When they are well spread over the
area, are busy eating and drinking, the temperature is cor-
rect. Visit the brooder house every hour or so the first few
days to see that everything is in order; be sure to see that
the poults are spread evenly around the hover at night. It is
a good idea to make one visit during the night.
Change the paper plates or egg flats as they get soiled.
On the third day turn the sacks under the brooder over or
put in new sacks. The sacks can be washed and used again.
On the fourth or fifth day the sacks can be removed and all
paper plates taken up. If a few poults are still not eating it
might be well to leave one paper plate with feed for another
day, or remove those poults not eating to some place where
they can be watched until you are sure they are eating and
Second Week. Drop temperature 2 more degrees, or from
920 to 900, but still watch the action of the poults. Remove
brooder guard and give poults the run of the house. When
the brooder guard is removed it is very important to watch
the poults to see that they do not stray away from the heat
and pile up. Just here it might be well to caution about
turkey poults crowding or piling up. They have a more
pronounced tendency to pile and crowd than do chickens. If
the temperature is too hot or too cool they will crowd. If the
sun happens to hit a spot on the brooder floor they will go
toward this light. If this spot should be in a corner you will
sometimes have a number of poults smother to death from
crowding. Do not leave any feed bucket or bags of feed in
the brooder house. The curiosity of the poults will lead them
to jump down into the feed bucket until the ones on the bottom
are smothered, or crowd behind a bag of feed until some are
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING 59
Place the feeder and waterer on a board about 1" x 10".
This board can be the length of the feeder or the waterer.
This will help to keep the feed and water clean. Stir the litter
each day and watch out for wet spots and remove any wet
litter. Wash and thoroughly clean water founts each day.
Keep the feed troughs thoroughly clean.
Third Week. The temperature the third week can again be
dropped about 5 degrees, or from 90' to 85. Keep the rest
of the house cool and well ventilated. The feeders and wat-
erers should be placed on a wire platform that can be made
by using 3/4-inch mesh hardware cloth on a 1" x 4" frame
with 1" x 4" crosspieces about every two feet. For the first
few days put some feeders and waterers on the platform and
leave some on the boards. Do not make any rapid changes-
always make the changes gradually. Add larger water founts,
one 3-to-5 gallon waterer for each 100 poults. If you have
automatic waterers in the house, these can be put into opera-
tion, but always leave a few of the glass founts around until
the poults are accustomed to the larger founts. Watch the
litter. Remove any damp or soiled litter and stir it daily.
Allow the poults the use of the sun porch if the weather
Fourth Week. Drop temperature to about 850, but still
watch the poults as well as the thermometer. Change to
larger feeders, allowing more feeder space per poult. One
4-foot feeder will be sufficient for 45 to 50 poults. Continue
to stir the litter daily and watch out for coccidiosis. Wet spots
in the litter are ideal places for coccidiosis to get started.
Place medium size granite grit before the poults and keep it
before them. See that the house is kept well ventilated. It
will be necessary to pay special attention to the poults between
sundown and dark to see they are spread well around the
brooder at night and are not attempting to roost on the feed
troughs and wire platform or crowding to one side of the
Fifth to Eighth Week. For early hatched poults drop the
temperature 5 degrees each week for the next three weeks.
For late hatched poults the brooder may be cut off during the
day, but have it ready to put back on should there be a sudden
change in the temperature or cool nights. Provide roost
poles, allowing space for all poults to roost should they desire,
about 5" to 6" per poult. A dim light may be kept in the
brooder house which helps to spread the poults more evenly.
During the seventh and eighth week gradually change from
60 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
a starting mash to a growing mash. By this time most of
the feeders and waterers should have been moved to the sun
porch. This will help to keep the litter in the house clean.
The sun porches should be shaded or, better still, covered
with some cheap rubber roofing. At this age the poults will
begin to want to roost on the sun porch. This is fine, pro-
vided a rain does not come up at night and catch them out
on the porch. It is almost impossible to drive them back into
the house at night once they have gone to roost. Therefore, a
shelter of some kind over the sun porch, if the poults are
going to be allowed to stay out at night, will save some poults
from drowning should a sudden rain fall.
In addition to mash, some whole oats or scratch grain can
be put in a feeder. The birds will eat very little or none at
first, but in a week or 10 days they will be consuming a good
amount. When the feeding of oats or grain has been started
it is very important to see that they have ample hen-size grit
Ninth to Twelfth Week. Between nine and twelve weeks
you must decide whether you are going to continue the grow-
ing of the turkeys in confinement or move them to range. If
they are to be grown in confinement provide additional space.
Each bird will need from 5 to 7 feet of floor space. Sprinkle
acid phosphate over the droppings under the sun porch each
week. This will help keep down flies and odor. If you use acid
phosphate it may not be necessary to clean quite so often.
Continue the feeding of growing mash and whole oats or
scratch grain. Provide turkey size granite grit and keep it
before them at all times. The proportion of grain to mash
will increase as the turkey gets older. If you practice confine-
ment rearing it will take more feed and the equipment cost
will be much higher per turkey. If you are to grow the tur-
keys in confinement, allow more space, 5'to 7' per bird, and
continue the same feeding practices. As the turkeys grow
older and the weather becomes cooler, add whole yellow corn
to the ration. The growing mash or pellets, whichever is
being fed, whole oats and yellow corn will finish the turkey
ready for market. Where turkeys are to be grown on range
they can usually be moved from the house and sun porch to
the range during the ninth to the twelfth week period, de-
pending, of course, on the season of the year and weather
conditions. The plan discussed in this article is to raise the
turkeys on range after nine to twelve weeks.
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
Turkey poults should be vaccinated for chicken pox at
six to eight weeks. If they are to be grown on range they can
be vaccinated at the time they are moved.
The range selected must be clean land-land on which no
chickens or turkeys have been allowed to range in the past
three years. Allow at least one acre of land for each 100
poults. To save feed and promote growth of the poults the
range should be seeded to some crop or crops that will afford
feed and grazing. Refer to Table 3, Florida Circular 59,
Green Feeds for Poultry. Some of the crops in this table can
be used to advantage with turkeys, especially corn, peas, soy
Outdoor growing battery, showing concrete yard for catching
droppings and making cleaning easier. (F. W. R.)
beans, peanuts and millet. The range, in addition to being
clean and providing grazing and green feed, should afford
shade, sunlight, protection from predatory animals and var-
mints. It should be well drained and should be free of holes
where water might stand and become stagnant. Stagnant
water and wet spots on the range are a source of disease and
trouble at all times.
Equipment for the range need not be expensive. Portable
shelters that will afford protection from heavy rain for the
first few weeks and will help to make shade is all that will
be needed in the way of shelter.
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Growing battery showing shelter and wire runs and outside
water trough and spigot. (F. W. R.)
Roost poles should be provided allowing 18" per turkey.
They should be portable. They need not be over 18" from the
ground, as there is danger of injury, especially with heavy
toms if the roosts are too high. Saw horses with poles from
one to the other may be used for roosts. 12" to 16" concrete
blocks may be used in place of saw horses as the base for
the poles. Remember that the roost poles must be strong to
take care of the growth of the turkey. A broken roost pole
at night can cause injury to a few turkeys and might cause
the entire flock to become frightened and fly off, resulting in
a lot of injuries.
For a large number of turkeys on range, portable feeders
that will hold 6 to 8 bags of feed are to be recommended over
small feeders that have to be filled each day. Provide one
10-foot feeder for each 60 to 100 turkeys. All feeders should
be equipped with a No. 12 or 14 wire stretched tightly just
above the feeding space. The turkeys will use this wire to
clean the mash or feed from their beaks rather than cleaning
them on another turkey and this will help to prevent feather
picking. If pellets are fed the danger of feather picking is
not so great and the wire will not be needed.
Provision must be made to supply plenty of drinking
water. Water may be piped to the range. In this case some
type water vessel using an automatic float may be used. Place
the water vessel on wire platforms to take care of any waste
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
water and to prevent dampness around the waterer. If water
has to be hauled to the range, oil drums placed on skids
equipped with a trough and float valve may be used. The
drum can be filled with water as needed. Tubs, water pails,
metal or wood troughs may be used and kept well supplied
with water. It is important to keep the water as cool as
Some kind of shade on the range is important. The range
may be placed adjacent to a strip of woods. In this case all
roosts, waterers, feeders and shelters should be placed out in
the open. The turkeys will go to the woods for shade and will
come out for feed and water. The sunshine will help to
destroy disease germs and parasites that might concentrate
around the feed and water. If wood shade is not available.
then provide more shelter or other forms of shade. Such
crops as corn and sunflowers may be planted in strips on the
range to provide shade. A pecan grove usually makes an
excellent turkey range, supplying both shade and sunshine.
If a fence is used around the range it should be a tem-
porary fence, easily movable. Place the wire on the outside
of the posts. In case there should be a stampede of the tur-
keys and they pile up or fly against the fence it could be easily
Protection of the turkeys while on the range from preda-
tory animals is very important. Dogs and foxes, especially.
Shelter for growing battery, showing water trough and feed
trough on outside for good sanitation. (F. W. R.)
64 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
can cause heavy losses among turkeys. The use of lights at
night is important. Flares such as are used to guard parked
trucks on the roadside at night, placed all the way around
the roosting area, will help to keep away some animals. Stray
dogs are a menace in some areas and shooting or poisoning
is sometimes the last resort. If a large number of turkeys are
kept on the range it is highly desirable that someone stay
near them during the day and sleep on the range at night, to
guard against predatory animals and thieves.
Management of Turkeys While on Range
The area to be used for range should have been seeded to
some crop that will furnish grazing. All equipment should
be in readiness. It is a wise practice to move only a small
number to the range for the first ten days. In most cases
the feeders, water founts and roosting area will be different
from those used in the house or on the sun porch. It will be
much easier to teach a small group. When this group has be-
come accustomed to the new surroundings, other poults can
be brought to the range. They will 'follow the older group.
The change from the brooder house to the range is a drastic
move under the best of conditions. Records over the years
show that one of the high peaks in turkey mortality comes
at the time of moving to range. Everything possible should
be done to make this change as easy as possible on the poults.
The rotation of the turkeys while on range is important.
Gradually move them on to new or clean areas. Don't let
them stay in the same area until it gets contaminated. The
frequency with which they are moved will be determined by
the drainage of the area, by weather conditions and the
amount of grazing available. One system that can be used
is to make the roosting area stationary. If temporary fences
are used, move them further out every 10 days to 2 weeks. At
the same time move the other equipment, water founts, feed-
ers, etc., but allow the turkeys to come back to the roosting
area each night. Another system is to move everything, in-
cluding the roost. Rotation of the turkeys while on range will
help to keep disease germs and parasites under control. It
will also make available a larger area for grazing, thus some
saving in feed cost.
Feeding Turkeys on Range
Large covered feeders on skids that are easily movable,
that will hold 6 to 8 bags of feed at one time, will materially
cut down on the labor involved in feeding turkeys on the
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING 65
range. Usually half of the total number of feeders should
contain mash or pellets, the other half grain. As the season
advances the turkeys will consume more grain and the number
of grain feeders will have to be increased, thus cutting down
on the number of feeders with mash or pellets. With this
system the turkeys will balance their rations. It is important
not to allow any of the feed to stay in the feeders too long
and get old. By alternating the filling of the feeder, allowing
one group of feeders to be empty or almost empty each time
before feed is put out, the problem of old feed in the bottom
of the feeder will be eliminated. Good fresh feed at all times
Feed cost will make up 50% or more of the total cost of
raising turkeys. The feed required to grow a turkey to mar-
ket size varies widely, depending on the variety, time of hatch,
feed used, management, type of range, age marketed and
disease and parasite control. Heavy mortality means higher
feed cost for those that survive, as the feed consumed by the
turkeys that die must be charged against those that live.
High mortality late in the growing season can make a very
high feed cost for the turkeys that summer.
Various feed tests show that it takes from a low of 70
pounds to a high of 120 pounds of feed to grow a turkey to
market size. Where turkeys are grown on range and there is
a fair amount of green grazing available, it will usually re-
quire from 90 to 100 pounds of feed per bird for the Broad
Breasted Bronze variety, provided they are marketed as they
reach prime condition. If the turkeys have to be fed several
weeks after they are mature the feed consumption will be
How fast do turkeys gain? How much do they eat?
Age in Weeks Weight Feed
4 1.40 1.56
8 4.1 8.4
12 7.6 18.4
16 11.8 32.9
20 15.5 50.1
24 18.8 69.0
28 22.0 93.8
The feeding schedule suggested here calls for starting the
poults on a turkey starting mash, changing from this starting
mash to a growing mash at 7 to 8 weeks of age. Feed com-
panies make this starting feed in both a mash and a pellet
form. At 7 to 8 weeks of age grain feeding can be started.
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Oats, wheat, cracked corn and barley may be used or com-
binations of these grains, but oats are considered the best of
all grains for turkeys. Instead of a growing mash a high pro-
tein concentrate may be fed during the growing period. This
concentrate carries a guaranteed analysis of 28 to 32 percent
protein. With a protein concentrate the turkeys will consume
more grain and less mash than if you feed low protein grow-
ing mash or pellets. Some growers feed nothing but whole
oats along with a turkey concentrate during most of the grow-
ing period. Whole corn is added to the ration in the fall dur-
ing the finishing period, the last four weeks before the turkeys
After the feeding of grain is started, poults may continue
at first to eat mash only, taking some time to get started on
the grain. As they get older they will gradually consume
more and more grain and less and less mash until by the time
they are ready for market they will be eating a much larger
proportion of grain than mash. In most cases turkey growers
will feed commercial starting and growing feeds or turkey
concentrate manufactured by a reliable feed company. These
feed companies suggest a feeding program for these particu-
lar feeds. The price of the mash, pellets, concentrate and
grain may help to determine the type of feeding program
that will be used.
In growing turkeys the initial cost of the poults and the
cost of the feed to produce these poults to market age repre-
sent approximately 70 percent of the total cost of raising
turkeys. Therefore, secure poults of superior quality that will
live and will utilize feed efficiently, feed well balanced diets
and do not waste feed by using poor feeders. Fewer pounds
of feed per pound of turkey raised should be the goal if a
profit is to be made from the turkey enterprise.
CROPS FOR TURKEYS
Cowpeas make early green pasture and the mature peas
are excellent grain feed.
Peanuts make excellent feed in the green growing stage
and fine fattening feed later when fully matured.
Corn and velvet beans make a good shelter for late summer.
While turkeys do not eat velvet beans, they attract bugs and
insects for the turkeys to feed on.
Crotalaria is used for shelter and to attract bugs and
insects. Other crops used are beggarweed and kudzu. Chufas
furnish good fattening feed for late summer and early fall.
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
The small grains such as oats and rye furnish good grazing
for early fall and winter.
The Florida Extension Service of the University of Florida
makes the following suggestion on:
Blackhead among turkeys is a serious problem. The tur-
key industry in the State is of major importance, and has
possibilities for further development. If it is to continue, the
haphazard methods of care must be forsaken and proper
sanitary precautions adopted.
You cannot turn a deaf ear to this, because it is a problem
with which you will have to reckon. This does not mean that
you have to spend a great deal of money for an elaborate
outlay of equipment. It does mean that you will have to raise
turkeys on clean land separate from chickens. Clean land is
land that has not been used by turkeys or other poultry for at
least one year.
The majority of our turkey producers have large farms
of well-drained sandy soil which is ideal for turkey ranges.
The greatest problem is to prevent the turkeys from ranging
about the barnyard where the soil is contaminated with dis-
ease germs and parasites. Chickens are often affected with
blackhead but do not show any symptoms. Therefore, they
can carry the germs and spread it among the turkey flock.
The only means of preventing this is to keep the chickens and
When the poults are hatched the hen and poults should be
moved some distance from the barnyard, and the coop moved
a few feet each day. A suitable coop is one about 3' x 5'
covered with tin or with sacks coated with the following
cement mixture. (Recommended by Auburn for poultry
2 lbs. lime 1 qt. water % lb. powdered alum
1 lb. salt 12 lbs. cement
Best results are obtained by having a coop for each hen.
When several coops are used they should be placed in line
and moved in the same direction each day so as to have used
range behind. The hen should be confined to the coop for
four or five weeks, and the poults given free range about the
coop. After this age the hen can be given free range during
the day, but should be confined to the coop at night.
When the poults are large enough to stand the weather
they may use open roosts. The roosts should be built on legs
like sawhorses so they can be moved once a month. It is best
68 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
to build the roosts low and inclose them with a temporary
fence that can be easily moved. The turkeys should be given
free range, but feed and water should be kept inside the fence
so the turkeys will return to the roost each night.
When poults are brooded artificially they should have a
four-yard system about the brooder house or be confined to
a wire-cloth sun porch. When the poults are large enough
to do without heat they should be moved to a range shelter
which is constructed so a team of mules can drag it to new
range when necessary.
You may say that we have gone a little "haywire" on the
subject of sanitation. But remember there is no known cure
for blackhead. By following the above sanitary program
you can prevent blackhead.
TREAT FOR LICE
Don't forget two dustings with sodium fluoride ten days
apart will take care of them. Be sure to dust the breeders
before any poults hatch as it is dangerous to dust young
Any good chick starter can be used to start poults, if
liquid milk is fed in addition to increase the protein content
of the ration. Several of the commercial feed companies have
good turkey starters on the market. You will find the follow-
ing home-mix excellent.
20 ground yellow corn
15 wheat bran*
20 wheat middlings or shorts*
10 finely ground or pulverized oats**
8 meat scraps (not tankage)
8 fish meal
10 dried buttermilk, skim milk or milk sugar feed
6 alfalfa leaf meal
2 steamed bonemeal
35 lbs. of mixed wheat feed or ship stuff may be used in place of
bran and shorts.
** Only heavy oats weighing over 30 pounds per bushel should be
Two pounds of cod liver oil should be added if poults do
not receive direct sunshine.
The mash should be placed before the turkeys as soon as
they are moved to the brooder house or as soon as the hen is
moved from the nest. It should be fed dry in feed hoppers or
small troughs and kept before the turkeys at all times. Equal
parts of cracked corn and wheat should be fed in open hop-
:- ,."-'' .***7. .- o - ; -- f 'f l -,
"/ ', -: .',^ -. "*.*" '- -- :, -"- r '' :
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-,f q w"0 ..... ,
"7 " "-,' *.^ : . -/ . .' '" / ^ ** . .
..s ,_. -* ;
j -. lr. - 1.
P N .
*" -'"^ *N - '.
Si~ ^, ^!' '"4*
Courtesy Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Turkey flock in West Florida.
70 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE!
pers, beginning at the end of the first week. The poults will
gradually increase the amount of grain consumed until they
will eat about equal parts of mash and grain. It is not neces-
sary to crack the corn after the poults are large enough to
eat it whole. The poults will not overeat if fed in this way.
If liquid milk is available the dry milk may be omitted from
When poults are 8 to 10 weeks old the mash formula may
be changed to a growing formula as follows:
20 lbs. ground yellow corn
20 lbs. wheat bran
20 lbs. wheat shorts
20 lbs. ground oats
10 lbs. meat scrap
10 lbs. fish meal
2 lbs. steamed bonemeal
1 lb. salt
With plenty of milk for the first 6 or 8 weeks and tender
green feed throughout the year the following simple mix will
grow good turkeys.
200 lbs. ground corn
200 lbs. wheat shorts
100 lbs. meat scrap or fish meal
5 lbs. salt
When the poults are 8 to 10 weeks old, corn, wheat, oats
and cowpeas may be fed in hoppers. Don't forget the im-
portance of liquid milk for the poults and green feed the year
round. The breeders should also have oyster shell.
A flock of turkeys on a farm is a valuable possession, par-
ticularly as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. As they
range over farm and woods they are reared at low cost, and
with the demand at the holiday season they bring good prices.
To get the best prices for turkeys the raiser must give careful
thought to their marketing. He must know how to fatten
them and must know when, where, and how to market.
GOOD QUALITY IMPORTANT
Good quality is important in marketing turkeys and adds
much to their market value. Good-sized, quick-growing well-
fattened birds make a good appearance when dressed and
they find a ready sale at good prices. Thin, scrawny birds,
on the other hand, are hard to sell at any price. Turkeys are
* Adopted from U. S. Department of Agriculture Circular.
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
sold by the pound, so the larger the size and weight they can
be made to attain by the time of marketing, the greater will
be the returns. Consequently the breeding stock should be
carefully selected and preferably should be of some standard
HOW TO FATTEN
To pen up turkeys to fatten them is a very unsatisfactory
method. When turkeys are raised on a free range, and
although they may eat well for a few days when penned,
after that time they are likely to eat little and to lose rather
than gain in weight.
On the average farm, range fattening is the most satisfac-
tory. This should begin as soon as the weather turns cool
in the fall, usually about the first of October. Fattening
should proceed gradually by feeding lightly in the morning,
and again in the evening a short time before the turkeys go
to roost. Equal parts of wheat, oats, and old corn should
form the ration for the first feedings. The amount of feed
should be increased gradually and also the proportion of corn.
After a month's feeding the turkeys can be given all they
will eat three times a day; from that time the feed should
consist chiefly of old corn. Never feed new corn in large
quantities, as digestive troubles may develop which will inter-
fere with rapid and economical fattening or may even cause
death. If no old corn is available, new corn should be fed
very sparingly, and the quantity should be gradually increased
as the turkeys become accustomed to it.
In sections where there are a great many peanuts on the
range, turkeys will often fatten satisfactorily without heavy
corn feeding. There is little to be gained by trying to fatten
them during hot weather.
WHEN TO MARKET
Producers usually market their turkeys either for the
Thanksgiving or for the Christmas market. Some find a
good market in January, February and March in Florida. If
the birds are of good size, are well-matured, and are in good
condition for fattening, they can often be marketed to best
advantage at Thanksgiving. If they are small and immature
at that time it may be desirable to hold them until Christmas
or even longer and thus obtain more weight before marketing.
Any of the turkeys that are fattened for the Thanksgiving
market but are not in very good condition at the right time
may be held for the Christmas market to receive further
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
feeding, but unthrifty birds should be sold without further
delay as they are unlikely to fatten well, and they may die.
WHERE TO MARKET
The best place to market turkeys is, of course, where the
best returns, everything considered, can be obtained. If the
farm is within trucking distance of a good market the best
prices can usually be obtained by selling direct to the house-
wife or to other consumers such as hotels, restaurants, hos-
pitals, or other institutions.
If trucking facilities are not available, express shipments
may be made to retailers or commission merchants, or the
turkeys may be sold to local produce dealers and carlot ship-
pers. If the producer is located five hundred miles or more
from a large city the choice of an outlet is somewhat re-
stricted. To determine which available outlet is best, the
grower should inform himself fully regarding the shipping
charges to the various markets at which buyers are located,
and he should keep in touch with buyers in both local and
distant markets so that he will know what price each will
pay. As a rule buyers will furnish quotations to producers
on request. With such information at hand, the producer
should be able to decide which outlet is best.
HOW TO MARKET LIVE TURKEYS
Most producers market their turkeys alive, for this is
usually the most satisfactory method. As a rule, producers
are not well equipped for dressing turkeys properly nor are
they skilled in the operation. Therefore, only in the case of
local sales or in case the grower has an unusually favorable
outlet is he justified in shipping dressed turkeys to market.
Coops for shipping live turkeys should be high enough to
allow the birds to stand up. A coop three feet long and two
feet wide and twenty inches high will accommodate five or
six turkeys. Overcrowding is likely to result in bruising,
which causes dark unsightly areas on the dressed carcasses;
these detract from the attractiveness and market value of
birds. Overcrowding may also cause death and complete loss.
If the birds are to be on the road only a few hours, they
should not be fed before shipping. If they will not arrive
until late afternoon or the next morning, it is better to feed
and water them fairly liberally just before shipment to reduce
shrinkage in weight during the journey.
TURKEY PRODUCTION AND MARKETING 73
Live turkeys should be shipped early enough to insure
their reaching the market three or four days before the holi-
day. Late arrivals may reach an overstocked market and
prices may be declining. Arrival after the holiday is almost
sure to result in lower prices.
If the shipment is made to live-turkey shipper or to a
turkey-dressing establishment in the country, a greater allow-
ance of time to reach the final market must be made. If the
shipper is located any considerable distance from market,
ten days or two weeks may be required to assemble a carlot
shipment and to place it on the market in time for the holiday.
In the case of sales for local consumption, delivery of the
birds is not desired as a rule until one or two days before the
Turkeys should be carefully counted and weighed before
shipping, and the number of birds and net weight in each
coop should be marked on the reverse side of the shipping tag.
Each coop must be tagged separately, the tags being securely
tacked or wired on both ends of the coop. Seals furnished by
the express company should be used in sealing the door of the
coop. The receiver should be notified immediately after the
shipment is made, and a statement showing the number of
birds and total net weight, the date, and method of shipment
should also be given. The express receipt should be retained
by the shipper until he receives his check from the receiver.
A WORD OF CAUTION
It is always a temptation for the turkey raiser to pick out
the largest, finest, quickest-growing turkeys and sell early.
Such a course is suicidal when the grower intends to continue
the raising of turkeys during the years to come. By doing
this at Thanksgiving and at Christmas, only the small, un-
thrifty birds are left in the flock. It is far better, instead,
to select and retain as many of the finest, largest, quickest-
growing young birds as are needed to rear the next year's
flocks and to send the rest to market.
The material contained in this section of the bulletin was prepared
by the author from experience and observation and with the assistance
of Mr. M. H. Dimmick, a turkey producer. Also material was secured
from bulletins of the United States Department of Agriculture and the
Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Agricultural Extension
Service of the University of Florida, and especially those by Extension
Poultryman N. R. Mehrhof and Assistant Extension Poultryman J. S.
Toulouse Gander I
44). *...j~ -
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Since a large part or practically all of the sustenance of
the goose is gathered from pasture, its possibilities under
Florida conditions can hardly be improved upon. This fowl
is frequently a valuable asset to the farm because of its habit
of grazing upon and exterminating weeds or other undesirable
plants. Our open mild winters and moderately cool summers,
with frequent showers to insure the growth of luxuriant
grasses, solve the feed problem, in that abundant green pas-
tures are available the year around. This continuous source
of cheap home-grown feed should make the raising of a few
head of geese an attractive undertaking on almost any farm.
It should especially appeal to many farm women who could
tend them at odd times.
The amount of labor necessary to expend in caring for a
small flock of geese is slight. The capital involved is mod-
erate. The general hardiness and freedom of geese from
disease reduce losses in raising them to a negligible considera-
tion. The fact that geese live and breed for a much longer
time than do other forms of domestic fowls, enables one to
market a much greater percentage of the young each year.
This method of supplying the table with another source of
meat at a very small outlay for feed, plus the fact that the
surplus may be sold at a fair profit, should induce the raising
of more of these valuable weed exterminators on more forms.
Of course the fact that the ganders are more or less vicious
necessitates a little more care when youngsters are on the
farm. However, this disadvantage may be largely overcome
by training young children to avoid geese. Frequently the
gander is only bluffing and getting away with it. Therefore,
if the child can be induced to show no fear but only respect
for ganders, there should be little, if any, trouble from this
BREEDS OF GEESE
There are six breeds of geese recognized by the American
Standard of perfection, four of which are the more common
in this country. These are Toulouse, Emdten, Chinese and
African. The Wild, or Canadian, and the Egyptian are rarely
kept except for ornamental purposes.
Toulouse: This breed originated in France and received its
name from the city of Toulouse. It is the most popular of
the different breeds. Its body is large, massive, broad and
deep, and almost touches the ground. Individuals lay from
20 to 36 eggs a year, but are usually nonsitters, the eggs
ordinarily being set under hens. The color of the Toulouse
76 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
is dark gray on the back, shading to light gray on the breast
edged with white, and white on the abdomen. This is the
quietest and gentlest of the breeds.
Emden: Originating near Bremen, Germany, this was one
of the first breeds to be introduced into this country. It is a
pure white goose slightly smaller than the Toulouse, is a better
sitter, and will hatch part of its own eggs. It matures early
and makes a good market product.
Chinese: This breed is much smaller than any other breed
of geese. There are two strains, the White and the Brown.
It carries its body more erect than other geese, which gives it
a swan-like appearance. As it is quite noisy it is not as well
liked as the other three common breeds.
The African is about the size of the Emden. It has a brown
shade of plumage. This breed, and also the Chinese, have a
distinctive knob on the head at the base of the beak over the
As geese are natural grazers the problem of caring for
them is reduced to the minimum. It is inconsequential. Then,
when furnished with a body of water in which to swim, the
adults readily care for themselves throughout the year in this
country with practically no other feed or care.
Geese should be selected for size and vitality. And as
matings are not changed from year to year, unless results are
undesirable, selections and matings should be started in the
fall so that mates may become adapted to each other before
the breeding season. A gander may be mated with from one
to four geese, but best results are obtained when he is mated
with only one or not more than two. It is customary to mate
older ganders with young geese and young ganders with old
geese, if most satisfactory results are desired. As these
matings may extend over a period of from 15 to 20 years,
great care should be exercised in the selection of the mates
that they are temperamentally suited to each other.
Best results are obtained when early eggs are taken from
the nest and set under hens. The same care should be taken
of the hen sitting on geese eggs as of the hen sitting on duck
eggs. The period of incubation is about the same. Set from
four to six eggs under the average hen, making sure that
she, as well as the nest, are free from insect pests. If the
nest is not set in a damp place, it is necessary to soak the eggs
in warm water (it should be about 100 degrees, Fahrenheit),
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA
from half a minute to a minute once a day, beginning on the
fifteenth day and continuing to the last two or three days of
the hatch. Young goslings hatch slowly, and individuals
should be removed to a warm basket as they hatch until all
are out. Then return to the hen. Heads of the young should
be greased to prevent the appearance of the head louse.
BREEDING AND RAISING
Confine the hens so that they cannot take the young
goslings out into wet grass. After a week or ten days the
hen may be removed from the goslings. However, young
goslings are kept confined until the grass is dry for a period
of from two to four weeks, by which time they should be
partly feathered. They should be given a separate range
from the adult stock, in order that they may be protected
from trampling feet and that they may be assured of a con-
stant supply of fresh green pasture.
Goslings should not be fed until they are 36 hours old.
Then feed a crumbly mash made of stale bread, mixed or
soaked in milk, with finely chopped boiled egg added. Con-
tinue feeding from two to four times daily, adding gradually
increased amounts of chopped grass with a small amount of
fine grit. Plenty of clean fresh water should be available
at all times, day and night. If the goslings are on a good
grass range, one feeding a day of a mash composed of 2 parts
of shorts and 1 part of corn meal (yellow is preferred) or
ground oats is ample after the third week. At six weeks of
age, they should be able to graze for their entire living.
As a general rule geese are marketed just prior to Thanks-
giving and Christmas. They are fattened by confining in
small lots and being fed corn on the cob, the husks serving as
roughage. Geese are usually sold alive, which eliminates the
difficulty of plucking and dressing.
Living geese are sometimes plucked, the feathers being
used for pillows and cushions. But more frequently they are
killed, scalded and then picked. The feathers, in the latter
instance, are spread out and dried and then sacked loosely in
burlap bags and hung up so that they will not gather moisture
Acknowledgment is made of information drawn on, in preparing
this section, from the many publications of the United States Depart-
ment of Agriculture. Also many bulletins published by various State
experiment stations were found to contain much interesting and useful
According to U. S. D. A. sources, the value of ducks and
geese and other lesser fowl like guineas, pigeons and pheas-
ants, produced in the United States brought the growers
16 1/3 million dollars in 1930, 15 million in 1940, 57 1/3
million in 1945 and 68 1/3 million in 1951.
The middle Atlantic States produced almost 21 million
dollars of this total and the Pacific States 13 million dollars.
The Long Island ducklings are the largest factor in the Mid-
dle Atlantic States production. There are an average of
12,000,000 ducks produced annually in the United States for
meat purposes, mostly as young ducklings.
In the early history of this country wild ducks were
plentiful, however as the country developed the wild ducks
diminished in numbers. For 75 years or a little longer com-
mercial duck farming has been expanding-lots of people
like a change of meat from the white meat of chicken and
turkey to the dark meat of ducks. Well bred ducks, properly
managed, grow very rapidly during the first weeks of age
and are very efficient in the conversion of feed into meat.
Duck egg production has not attained as important a place
in this country as in England and Holland.
There are three classes of ducks as follows: (1) those kept
mostly for meat production; second (2) those kept for egg
production, and third (3) those kept for ornament or fancy
types. These three classes are divided into eleven (11)
breeds. Meat production classes are Pekin, Rouen, Cayuga,
Muscovy and Aylesburg. The egg producing breeds are
Runner and Buff and in England Khaki-Campbell is a good
egg producer. The fancy breeds are: Call, Crested, East In-
dia and Blue Swedish. There are non-standard breeds with
beautiful plumage like the Wood and Mandarin breeds.
The breeds of ducks that are of any importance in this
country were originated from the Wild Mallard, which in-
habits most parts of the world. The Mallards are easy to
domesticate and in the early days of this country the settlers
often gathered Mallard eggs and set them under hens or
caught the wild Mallard ducklings and raised them on their
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA 79
Wild Mallard Drake
Wild Mallard Duck (USDA)
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The Pekin duck is the breed that is used for commercial
meat production. The Pekin breed was originated in China, it
is noted for rapid growth and is the breed of outstanding
economic importance. It is the breed kept by most duck
farmers, the color is white, the body is long and broad and
the breast is well-fleshed, the skin color is an attractive yellow.
White Pekin Drake (USDA)
The bill is orange yellow and the shanks and feet are a reddish
color. The standard weight for the adult drake is 9 lbs. and
the adult duck 8 lbs. The young drake averages 8 lbs. and
the young duck 7 lbs. Florida folks are now beginning to
eat more duck meat and there is an outstanding duck farm
near Jacksonville where several thousand young ducklings
are grown and dressed each week. Several large chain store
operators sell them in most Florida cities.
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA 81
Rouen was originated in France near the town of Rouen,
hence its name. The color of the plumage is very much like
that of the Wild Mallard duck. Though it has a shape similar
to the Pekin, it has never been popular as a meat bird in this
Cayuga. This breed derives its name from Cayuga County,
New York. It has black plumage and averages one pound
lighter than the Pekin. Probably because of the black color
of the feathers it has never become very popular.
Muscovy. There are two standard varieties: White Mus-
covy and Colored Muscovy. It is of South American origin
and is probably of a different species that other ducks. It
has a tendency to fly and roost in trees; the female does not
quack. The adult males weigh 10 lbs. and the female 7 lbs.
Cayuga Drake (USDA)
82 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
White Muscovy Drake (USDA)
It is a good forager and does not make much noise. These
no doubt are the reasons it is grown by many farmers.
Aylesburg. This breed is very important in England; how-
ever it has never been popular in America. In size it is about
as large as the Pekin.
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA 83
EGG PRODUCING BREEDS OF DUCKS
There are three varieties of Runners-(1) the Fawn and
White, (2) the White, and (3) the Penciled. Runner ducks
are small in size and upright in body carriage. The adult
drake standard weight is 41/2 lbs. and the female 4 lbs.; young
drake 4 lbs. and the female 31/ lbs. The Runner ducks are
often called Indian Runner. In an egg laying contest in New
Zealand a Runner duck laid 363 eggs in 365 days. So far as
is known this is a record for ducks as well as fowl.
Buff. This is breed that was originated in England and
there it has given a good account of itself as an egg producer.
White Runner (USDA)
84 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The American people, as a whole, are not large eaters of
duck eggs although there is a limited market for duck eggs
for eating in the large metropolitan areas.
-.?^ Pnie R. n (UD.'.-: =
Penciled Runner (USDA)
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA 85
The most important ornamental breeds are the Call, the
Crested, East India, Blue Swedish, the Wood duck and the
Mandarin. The Wood and the Mandarin have feathers of
many beautiful colors and in regular patterns of distinct
S: p. -.. r 2..
ducks for meat purposes. It is necessary to have ducks that
will lay good numbers of eggs yearly, to keep down the cost
of ducklings that are produced for the commercial duck
farmers. Progeny testing is carried on which means select-
ing breeds from families of full sisters with high average egg
production records. Particular attention is paid to the selec-
tion of the drakes, they must come from sires and dams that
produce superior stock.
STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
MEAT PRODUCING STRAIN
The Pekin duck breeders have selected greeding stock for
rapid growth and efficient meat production, as well as for
good laying ability. Usually one drake is kept to each 5
females, or about 17 to 20 drakes to 100 female ducks on the
breeding farm. If well bred the females commence laying
at 7 months of age and will lay for about 10 months, when
properly fed and under good management.
When the ducklings are 7 to 8 weeks old, make selection
of those to be kept for future breeders. Generally this will
be in June and July. Good points to look for are select males
~i'~- v~ -
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i "iZ', :fec- .tS 2 j-j - .- *
White Call Duck (USDA)
and females with heads that are in proportion to size of body,
rejecting those with coarse looking heads, select those having
bright prominent eyes and those with deep, broad bodies
that are well fleshed over the breast and can walk straight
and stand up well.
On the ninth week go over the ducklings again and cull
those that have failed to show good development, and sell
them for meat. Special attention must be paid selecting good
males for they have six times the power for "good" or "bad"
as do the females.
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA
L:-. ". : ...r ,' :i i ^ '' :;
.' .. : '* y w-B u' "i
.^ "" ... 'L : **, -o .,
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**-. _"" .. .. '
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h Drake (USDA)
HOUSING FOR BREEDERS
Houses need not be expensive. Most types of chicken
houses are satisfactory for ducks. They need good ventilation
as much as do hens and chickens. Open front shed roofs are
generally very satisfactory. The front should be about 8 ft.
high, the back about 5 ft., and from 18 to 20 feet wide. The
length can be almost any length, depending on the number
of ducks to be housed. Provide about 5 square feet of floor
space per bird to be kept for breeders. On sandy soil a raised
88 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
dirt floor is satisfactory; on damp soil a concrete floor is
preferred. Plenty of water, preferably running water, is
necessary. Have plenty of nests, one to each 3 to 5 females
housed. Nest should be 12 inches wide and 16 inches deep.
A 5-inch board should be nailed to the front and at lower
part to keep litter in the nest and at same time give the
ducks space to get into the nest.
Breeders begin to lay in December. As laying takes place
early in the morning the females should be confined to the
house until about 9 or 10 A.M. Gather eggs in wire baskets
and keep them at about 550 temperature and in a place where
humidity is about 60 percent.
Ducklings hatched in incubators are raised under condi-
tions similar to brooding poults. Any of the regular type of
brooders may be used. Place 100 to 150 ducklings to each pen
of the brooder house, or with each colony brooder stove.
From 90 to 95 degrees of temperature should be maintained
under the hover the first week, 80 to 85 degrees the second
week, 70 to 80 degrees the third and fourth week, and from
65 to 70 degrees for the remainder of the growing period.
Brooder houses should face south or southeast, depending
on prevailing winds. Shed-roofed colony brooder houses the
same as used for turkeys or poultry. Most growers use com-
mercially prepared growing ration from their feed dealers
the entire growing period, some use a fattening ration the
last week or two.
Before discussing care and management of ducks, a few
brief remarks regarding the magnitude of commercial duck
farming might be of interest. The greatest development of
this industry has taken place within the outskirts of New
York City, and the proximity to this city was probably re-
sponsible for the magnitude it reached. From a modest
beginning in the middle of the eighteenth century, duck farm-
ing in that vicinity has grown to become a tremendous enter-
prise. The number of ducks grown on some of those farms
varies from 25,000 to 130,000. It must be kept in mind that
a large proportion of these are sold as "green ducks" at from
eight to ten weeks of age. Production seems to be limited
only by one's ability to keep a corps of trained men to carry
on the work. Under Florida conditions such extensive de-
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA 89
be kept well in mind. The chief ones are market, neighbors,
ample land bordering on water, and accessibility to good
roads. Try to select a site near a center of population where
large numbers of winter tourists from the Eastern States
congregate during the winter months. Near neighbors are
not an asset owing to the disturbance to the ducks caused
by curious, careless and sometimes pilfering persons. A
gently sloping site, bordering on a lake or running water,
with soil not too high or too low, is the best location. Light
sandy soils are ideal.
Probably the safest stock to start with is the Pekin. It has
been thoroughly tested and has proved itself satisfactory.
90 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
However, there are those in the State who prefer the White
Realizing that the start should be made on a small scale,
the question of buildings is one of small importance. It
should always be kept in mind not to invest too heavily in
fixtures and overhead. Moderate buildings erected from
undressed lumber, which is readily available at reasonable
prices, is most practical. As the plant develops, this question
will solve itself if care and judgment are used.
The question of feeding is complex and a brief discussion
here must suffice. The beginner will do well to avail himself
of valuable information on this subject published by the
Feeding methods vary as widely as in chicken raising and
the fundamental policy to be kept in mind is that proper
feeds, easily obtained and easily fed, give best results.
Water should be available at all times, night as well as
day. During the first three days a mixture of 2 parts of bran
and 1 part of corn meal (yellow preferred), and 1 part of
sharp sand, mixed to a moist consistency with milk, fed five
times a day in flat or shallow plates for the first three days,
usually will be found satisfactory. From the third day feed
this mixture four times daily until the end of the fifth week,
when the feeding periods are reduced to three times a day.
A gradual increase in the richness of the feed begins on the
On the fifth day beef or meat scrap is added to 5 percent
of the mash, and a gradual increase is made regularly until
10 percent beef scrap is being fed at the end of the fifth week.
The grain mixture consists of equal parts of corn meal and
shorts. This is mixed with chopped green feed. This is
salted. Enough water is then added to make the mash quite
crumbly. After this the feeding is done three times a day,
care being exercised that no more be fed than the ducks will
clean up. Satisfactory results are only possible when the
feeder uses the best of care, supplies plenty of grit, and makes
sure that the birds have easy access to shade and freedom
The proper time to sell ducks, where they are raised in-
tensively, is when they are from 10 to 12 weeks old, when
they will dress from 10 to 12 pounds per pair-the average
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA
market requirement. The marketing of this type of product
is a problem to be carefully studied and a beginner will do
well to give this branch of his business considerable careful
attention and study.
As the Pekin duck is not naturally broody, incubators are
necessary to hatch its eggs, if one is engaged in the business
on a large scale. Otherwise hens may be used. The equip-
ment is the same as that used for chickens. The amount of
incubator capacity depends upon the size of the plant and
the volume of business undertaken. The duck egg takes 28
days to hatch and the amount of tray space is only slightly
less than that for hen eggs, although the eggs weigh nearly
50 percent more. Well-formed and well-sized eggs should be
selected for incubating, but little attention is paid to color.
The temperature is held at from 101 to 102 degrees Fahren-
heit, for the first five days. The eggs are then tested. This
test, the only one made, is quite similar to the testing of hen
eggs. However, care should be taken to remove all eggs
which die during the subsequent period of the hatch. These
may be easily detected after a little experience by their change
in color. Duck eggs are not turned until the fifth day, and
from this time on they are turned twice daily.
With respect to moisture the duck egg requires consid-
erably more than do hen eggs, and the practice is to spray
them with cool water twice a day from about the seventh
day until they hatch. Care must be exercised at hatching
time to make sure that there is plenty of moisture in the
machine, as the duckling has more difficulty in emerging
from the shell than does the chick. As soon as most of the
eggs are hatched the ventilators are opened and the duck-
lings allowed to dry.
A well-hatched lot should be ready to move from the
incubator by noon of the 28th day. Move them to the brooder
which should have been heated and made ready for the
BROODING AND RAISING
Fortunately brooding is accomplished with much less
difficulty than with chicks, due to the fact that young duck-
lings are more sturdy and adapt themselves to the brooding
process more readily. Wait until they are thoroughly dried
off before attempting to move them from the incubator. Be
sure that the brooder is set up and running properly, then
92 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
place the ducklings in baskets lined with paper and covered
with cloth to insure their remaining warm during the transfer.
If the brooder is placed in a house with considerable floor
space, it is safer to surround it with a wire enclosure which
will keep the ducklings within a prescribed radius of the heat.
This may be removed after a day or two and from then on
little trouble will be experienced from the youngsters huddling
away from the source of heat, as chickens do frequently.
There are many types of brooder houses, which fact en-
ables one to select the house most suitable to his taste and
Some form of litter should be placed on the brooder house
floor to absorb the droppings. Sand with a light covering of
coarse alfalfa-leaf meal is very satisfactory for this purpose.
As the ducklings develop, the brooding area is enlarged
until the entire floor space is utilized. This does not take
long, as the young grow rapidly. The season of the year and
the weather, partly at least, control the length of time neces-
sary to keep the ducklings in the house. At the end of three
or four weeks they should be large enough to be let out on
a limited area. The size of the run is gradually increased
until the entire yard is included. After a few weeks the
ducklings can do without heat, depending on the season of
the year, and they then can be moved to more suitable quar-
ters. In these larger runs shelter is all that is necessary in
the form of housing, but care must be taken that plenty of
shade is available.
Shallow metal plates or pans are used for feeding and
watering the young ducks. Metal receptacles are more satis-
factory than wooden ones because they may be more readily
The method of feeding has already been described but it
will be of interest to note that it takes from 5 to 7 pounds
of feed to produce 1 pound of marketable duck. Breeding
stock is selected from the young market stock prior to finish-
ing and is put on open range to stimulate the growth of sturdy
and hardy specimens. They are fed less concentrated ration.
TWO METHODS OF DUCK FARMING
Let us consider briefly the two principal forms of duck
farming-specialized and diversified farming. The practices
of, and outlook for, these two types of duck raising in Florida
warrant special consideration.
1. Specialized Duck Farming: Here the operations are
DUCKS AND GEESE IN FLORIDA
carried on as a manufacturing process. The outlay for build-
ings is considerable, especially in northern states. It should
not be large in Florida. Operations are intensive, requiring
the attention of especially trained men. Disposing of the
product presupposes the presence in the near vicinity of mar-
kets sufficiently large to consume a considerable volume of
"green ducklings." Otherwise the undertaking cannot be
After noting carefully the above requirements and after
a thorough survey of conditions in the State, such a develop-
ment should be approached only after careful study and
thought, especially at the present time. However, there are
a few localities where such a plant might prosper on a limited
scale, as at points on the east or west coast near the larger
2. Diversified Farming: Where duck raising is made a part
of a diversified farming program, it probably stands the
fairest chance of success. A small flock of ducks kept on the
farm is a source of meat and eggs, home-raised, for home
consumption primarily. The surplus usually can be readily
disposed of locally, insuring for the farm a moderate source
The methods employed vary considerably from those used
on the specialized farm. The size of the flock should vary
from ten to twenty ducks and from three to four drakes. If
one is looking for a moderate egg yield, one of the meat breeds
will answer the purpose quite satisfactorily. Pekin, Ayles-
bury, Muscovy and Rouen come within this group. On the
other hand, if a higher egg yield is desired, the Indian Runner
will probably answer the demand.
RAISING DUCKS ON A SMALL SCALE
In order to get a start on a modest scale it probably is best
to purchase a small flock of the breed desired. Then, by
using hens to do the hatching and brooding many difficulties
will be avoided. The average hen will cover satisfactorily
from nine to twelve duck eggs. Be sure that the hen is free
of lice by dusting or dipping with sodium fluoride, that the
nest is protected and ventilated, and that there are no mites
to bother. Remember that it takes longer to hatch duck eggs,
therefore the sitting birds must have greater protection and
Be sure that the hen is carefully fed and watered during
94 STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
this period. A good feed is whole grain, 2 parts of whole
corn and 1 part of wheat and oats.
It does not injure duck eggs to wash them with warm
water, and some think that it even increases the chance of
hatching. Test on the fifth or eighth day and remove all
dead or infertile eggs.
Sprinkling the eggs toward the latter part of the hatch,
while the hen is feeding, materially aids the ducklings in
getting out of the shell. When they are well dried off, move
the family to a coop with slatted front. This type of coop
will allow the young ducklings to get out, while yet confining
the hen. Otherwise the hen will range too far for the young
birds. During mild weather they will require, normally, little
brooding except at night. The coop should be large enough
to give the hen enough ventilation and exercise to keep her
healthy. After a few weeks the ducklings will be independent
of the hen.
Feeding young ducklings on the farm is practically the
same as on the commercial plant, except on a smaller scale.
It consists of giving them a moist mash of crumbled bread
and milk. If this is not handy, a mixture of 2 parts of bran
and 1 part of corn meal (yellow is preferred), and 1 part of
sharp sand, mixed with milk to a consistency of mush, will
answer. This should be fed in shallow plates five times a day
for the first three days, after which the feeding periods may
be decreased to four times a day.
As these ducklings are not intended for the "green duck"
market, do not try to force them too fast, or you will increase
the cost of feeding and of caring for them. A modification
of the feeding operations suggested above will suffice. Fur-
thermore, some feed will be secured by ranging, particularly
if the ducklings have access to a good grass lawn or field.
Some meat or beef scrap should be added to the feed mixture
to insured steady normal growth, and this should be gradu-
ally increased as the ducklings increase in size.
Surplus ducks are marketed at maturity and are usually
sold alive. A small market for such is found in nearby
towns. Frequently a desirable and profitable sideline may
be built up in this way, if a little attention, effort and patience
are given to the raising and marketing of the product.
. -- -. "f
Future Pheasant Breeders selected for size, type, color and vigor. (Beacon Milling Co.)
In many sections of this country, especially in the prairie
and small grain sections, pheasants are found growing wild,
like quail in Florida. They are hunted by sportsmen for
pleasure and the meat is a real delicacy. Since they are pro-
tected game birds, anyone wishing to raise them must first
obtain a permit to do so from the proper conservation authori-
ties. Here in Florida this would be the Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission. These people also will give much
aid and advice concerning raising methods.
The first and most important thing to consider when
engaging in raising pheasants is to secure good healthy breed-
ing stock. When the start is to be made by using eggs or
pheasant chicks, be sure to obtain them from a reliable
The selection of future breeding stock should be made in
the late summer, about July and August. Those birds that
are selected should be placed in pens by themselves. Large,
strong, vigorous males should be selected a little later or when
they have reached full maturity, and placed in pens by them-
selves. A word of caution, all pens should be clean and on
clean soil to prevent disease hazards, so far as possible to
do so. Some breeders prefer to use 2 and 3 year old pheasant
hens mated to yearling cock birds. There are some who
prefer to mate yearling hens with 2 and 3 year old cock birds.
If the previous records of the old males are known to be good,
they should be given preference as breeders and mated with
the yearling hens to improve the flock.
All birds that are selected for breeders should be in prime
condition with fully developed tail feathers and show no sign
of feather picking. The young birds should be so well feath-
ered that it is practically impossible to tell the young birds
from the old birds or breeding stock. Never sell the best
and earliest matured birds and depend on securing breeders
by trying to grow out by spring those that are slow maturing.
Remember this-slow maturity may be an inherited charac-
teristic-this would tend to produce after a time a flock of
slow maturing pheasants.
Many Northern pheasant breeders turn lights on in the
laying house to lengthen the day and encourage egg produc-
tion early in the spring. The late maturing birds, even when
PHEASANTS IN FLORIDA 97
kept under lights, will not develop body size or lay- as many
eggs as will the strong, early maturing birds. The late ma-
turing birds will produce eggs smaller in size and more of
them will have to be culled out. It costs just as much to feed
and brood and house poor or undesirable birds as it does to
have good ones.
When the right wing of each bird is clipped they become
tamer, and if open pens are used this must be done anyway.
The wings should be clipped before the birds are put into
winter quarters, and when they are transferred to the breed-
ing pens they will settle down more readily.
Wire-floored Raising Pens. (Beacon Milling Co.)
Shelters can be built of almost any kind of lumber and
faced south in a well sheltered place. For a beginner a house
12 x 12 feet that is 4 feet high in the back and 8 feet in front
is recommended. A house this size will care for 5 to 10 hens
and a cock. It will also provide space for the feeders and
water. This is important as feed should be kept dry and must
be supplied in frequent intervals and should be before the
birds at all times.
For those who would like a large size operation, a house
4 feet at back and 8 feet in front and 16 to 20 feet deep up to
100 to 200 feet long can be used.
The breeding pens should be equipped with a roosting
pole. The pole should be placed high so the birds can see out-
side as they are easily frightened, especially when they cannot
Breeding Range-Showing Feed Hoppers and Water Fountain. (Beacon Milling Co.)
PHEASANTS IN FLORIDA 99
see visitors approaching. The pens around the houses can be
open top 150 by 150 feet and 8 feet high. The wire enclosing
the pens should be 1 inch mesh at bottom and it should be
sunk in the ground about 10 to 12 inches. This can be accom-
plished by digging a trench around the enclosure about a foot
deep and set the poles in this trench.
Movable pens can be made of light material, such as ply-
board. They can be moved by two men. They are 10 x 12
feet, 2 feet high at back and 5 feet in front, covered with 2-
inch mesh wire netting, with a strip of hard plyboard 2 feet
wide around the bottom. At the back end of pen a plyboard
2 to 4 feet wide should be placed across the pen. This will
provide shelter; under this shelter should be placed a waterer
and feed hopper.
A pen of the above size will accommodate one cock and up
to 10 hens. A gate is made in the front of the pen. This pen
should be moved every week to new ground. Branches of
some trees like pine or cedar should be fastened in each corner
to provide the birds a hiding place.
Pheasants can be brooded much the same as turkeys;
either electric or oil heat may be used. To help keep down
feather picking the room should be dark. After birds are
four or five weeks old they can be moved to a cool room. If
the proper type of feed is used and contains vitamins and
minerals they can be grown to maturity in the cool room. No
trouble will be experienced with feather picking if the room
is kept in semi-darkness. Some breeders do a good job raising
pheasant poults in battery brooders.
When pheasant poults are hatched they should be allowed
to stay in the nursery tray for 24 hours before moving them
to the brooder. While in the hatchery nursery tray they
should be given plenty of air by leaving the ventilators open.
The temperature under the edge of hover should be about
95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit at an inch or two above the
litter. The temperature around the feed hoppers and drink-
ing founts should be maintained at 80 degrees. It is very
important to encourage the little fellows to come out and eat
Guards should be placed around the hovers at enough
distance from the edges so that feeders and waterers can be
placed inside the guards. The guards can be made of wire
cut in foot strips, covered with cloth or feed bags. After a
Ring Neck Pheasants-2 months on wire. (Beacon Milling Co.)