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tenancy, more than he has done, or ought to have done, in the previous ones.* And in case the quantity of heather burnt in any year on the said moor is greater than the average of the last five years, the said A. B. agrees to pay to the said C. D. any such sum as may he considered the amount of damage by the arbitrators chosen as below mentioned. And, in the event of any difference of opinion, it is further agreed by and between the parties to these presents, that the same shall be referred to two arbitrators, one to be chosen by each, with power to choose an umpire, if necessary, whose decision shall be final. In witness whereof we do hereby sign our names, in the presence of E. T. ; A. B., C. D. Dated this 25th day of March, 1855.
This will be alluded to under the head of the Game Laws.
THE KINDS WHICH CAN BE REARED ARTIFICIALLY-METHODS OF OBTAIX
ING EGGS-HATCHING-REARING-KEEPING TAME PHEASANTS-TCRXING OUT-REARING GAME IN A WILD STATE,
THE KINDS WHICH CAN BE REARED ARTIFICIALLY. Among the varieties of game which are met with in this country, pheasants are the only ones which can be reared with any great advantage by artificial means. Partridges, black-game, and even red grouse can be bred in confinement, but the trouble and expense attending upon the plan are so great as to prevent its ever being adopted on anything but a very limited scale. But pheasants may be hatched under a domestic hen, and brought up by hand in any number, the chief danger being of their contracting the diseases which attack the poultry-yard, and especially that known as “the gapes.” It is found by experience that whether the wild pheasant is allowed to sit on all her eggs or not, in most seasons she will only rear about seven or eight young birds; and so if the keeper can take half her average number of eggs from her, and put them under a hen, all that he brings up may be considered as clear gain. When woods are to be heavily stocked this hand rearing is all important, for without it a large head of game is found to be beyond the powers of the most careful and experienced keeper. The hen cannot cover more than half her brood when they grow into anything like size, and at that time they contract colds, &c., and die off with the result which I have alluded to above. Nor can the wild hen pheasant find food for more than a certain number, while the keeper has it in his power to obtain unlimited supplies for his tame birds. Hence it has come to pass that for high preserving the artificial rearing of pheasants is universally adopted.
* To be added when a moor is taken, but not required for any other kind of preserve.
METHODS OF OBTAINING EGGS.
The great drawback to the artificial rearing of game is the temptation which is offered to keepers to procure the eggs necessary for the purpose by improper means. They are constantly offered to him by loose characters, who obtain them by robbing the nests; and too often it happens that the keeper buys them regardless of the mode in which they are obtained. The competition in getting a good head of game is so strong that neither keeper nor, very frequently, his master, cares much how the thing is done, so that it is done; and as eggs must be procured somehow, the robber of the nest gets rewarded instead of being punished. The penalty of five shillings per egg is very easily enforced, but we rarely hear of the law being carried out, for the simple reason that very few keepers can come into court with clean hands. Yet nothing can be more suicidal than this, for every one is robbed in his turn; and many a preserver pays for his own eggs, which would remain in their nests if there were no premium for the robbery offered by himself and his
neighbours. No doubt a law which should make the sale of the eggs
game birds altogether illegal would add to the difficulty of procuring them, but then it would still more diminish the necessity for them, because there would be more nests naturally brought to maturity.
There are three modes in which eggs may legitimately be obtained :-1st, From nests which are found in mowing grass, and which are chiefly those of partridges; 2ndly, by taking away a certain number from each nest without disturbing the old birds; and 3rdly, by keeping tame pheasants in confinement for the express purpose.
Of these the first is the least useful, because the eggs are almost always partially set on, and unless a “broody” bantam hen is at hand they will be rapidly spoiled. Machines known as Incubators have been suggested in lieu of these birds, but there are few gamekeepers who can manage them; and, I believe, they would seldom pay for their cost. Some keepers take care to have three or four hens always sitting during the mowing season, and by substituting the eggs of the partridge or pheasant for their own, the value of which is not very great, the former are brought to maturity. This resource, however, is not one on which great reliance can be placed.
The second plan is one which is largely practised by some most successful game-preservers, but it is chiefly applicable to pheasants. As I have already remarked, very few henpheasants rear more than eight birds, though they lay from ten to fourteen eggs, or even sometimes a greater number. The difference between the number of the eggs and of the resulting birds arises from the death, produced by exposure to the weather, of those young birds which the mother cannot cover with her wings; and it is found that if she has only seven or eight to begin with she will rear them all, and they will also be far stronger and better fed birds, from the hen being enabled to procure more food for them. The keeper, therefore, takes care to find each nest, and while the birds are on the evening feed he takes from it all above seven or eight, which are left to be hatched in the usual way. In an ordinary preserve this ought to give sufficient eggs for artificial rearing, with the addition of the third plan, to be next described.
Three, four, or five tame-bred hen pheasants are put into a pen with one cock, a difference of opinion existing as to the best proportion for the purpose, but this will vary much according to circumstances. Some strong healthy cocks will do better with four or even five hens than with three, while others again will scarcely fructify the eggs of the smallest number of hens mentioned. Wild birds will lay in confinement if they are put in a quiet place and not disturbed, but they will not produce nearly so many eggs, and of what they do lay a large proportion will be addled. If wild birds only can be procured, the best plan is to cut one of their wings, and make a large walled enclosure in the middle of a quiet covert, open over head, into which the wild cocks come. The hens make their nests in the usual way, and these are robbed of their eggs as fast as they are laid, taking care to leave a nest egs.
Sometimes in this mode twenty eggs a piece may be procured from wild hens, but rarely above that number, while tame hens will generally lay from twentyfour to thirty eggs each. The above plan is a good one, even with tame-bred hens, which should have one of their wings cut in any case, for, however careful the breeder may be to avoid frightening them, such an event will occasionally occur, and then if full-winged they fly up against the cover, and crush their skulls or break their necks, if it is solid, or hang themselves in a mesh if it is of network. Pinioning is an unnecessary cruelty, and as it is permanent the hens can never be turned out. Moreover, the cutting of the quill feathers close to the wing bone is equally efficient if it is done as fast as the feathers grow during the moulting time.
HATCHING. A large bantam is the best kind of hen for the purpose of hatching game eggs, but she will not cover so great a number of them in the nest, nor can she foster so many young
birds from the cold as a larger hen. A game hen, or, in fact, a hen of any small breed, will do very well, and being of larger size than the bantam will hatch and rear a dozen or fourteen young pheasants or partridges. Very large hens are objectionable from their tendency to tread on the young birds, which their weight is then sure to destroy.
A box, with a lid to it, from a foot to eighteen inches square, should be provided for each hen, and when the “broodiness" is fully established, put some hay in it sufficient to make a comfortable nest, and in this place the eggs. The lid should have a number of holes cut in it with a centrebit, for ventilation, and should be capable of being fastened down with a hasp and padlock in the usual way, which will allow the box to be safely left in places where it might otherwise be liable to interference. If several hens are sitting at the same time, the eggs may be examined at the end of the first week while the hens are feeding, and then if one-quarter or one-fifth are addled, which is about the usual proportion, they are removed, and making four nests into three, or five into four, according to the numbers, one hen is set at liberty for another hatch. The mode of distinguishing the addled eggs is simple enough. Take an egg and hold it, with the hand closed round it, between the eye and a strong light, when if it is good a dark speck will be visible at the end of five or six days from the commencement of sitting. A little practice is required in this operation ; but by looking at a few with care the difference is soon detected. Nevertheless, it is well to depend upon an experienced friend in the first instance. Pheasant eggs are hatched in twenty-four days; those of partridges in twenty-one.
Every hen bird naturally leaves her nest daily for a longer or shorter period in order to attend to the calls of hunger, by which another purpose is served connected with the due aeration of the eggs. On the average, three-quarters of an hour will be the time during which the hens are off, and this is sufficient to lower the temperature very considerably. As a consequence, the portion of air contained in the cell at the end of each egg contracts as it cools, and draws in through the pores of the shell a fresh supply, which, mixing with the whole quantity, affords fresh oxygen once in each day. When the heat is again raised, a part of the whole is forced out again by its expansion, and so day by day a kind of partial respiration is carried on essential to the due performance of the act of incubation, and necessarily imitated in artificial machines by lowering the temperature for an hour every day. If the hens are close sitters they