Mass production is the producing of any article in large numbers for the purpose of reducing manufacturing costs, lessening the labour and so being able to sell that article at a lower figure, or conversely (i.e., during slump periods) of selling at a satisfactory profit.

During the last five years there has been a large increase in the number of poultry-keepers in this country, all of whom have adopted one or more of the various ways of making a profit out of the domestic fowl.

World prices have fallen, heavy imports have become established evils and there has been a far greater home supply of poultry, hatching eggs, day-old chicks and so on than ever before remembered.

New poultry-keepers unfortunately are prone to buy in the cheapest market, and that, again, has resulted in price cutting. All these factors have resulted in a gradual but severe lowering of prices and profit.

In an effort, therefore, to make a proper profit, many poultry-keepers have turned to mass-production methods. What, then, does the future offer in this line?

Will it pay for hard-hit poultry farmers to adopt these methods? What are the dangers of mass production? Do factory methods constitute a danger to the future welfare of the industry?

All these questions must have occupied the minds of careful, thinking poultrymen, and we intend to discuss candidly the possibilities and probabilities.

Grand opportunities

First of all it will simplify things if we look for a moment at the opportunities of mass producing poultry. They are: 1) hatching with cabinet incubators, 2) rearing in batteries, 3) table poultry in batteries, 4) layers in 5,000-bird flocks, and 5) layers in batteries under the factory system.

There can be no doubt that such things have come to stay and, if in the future, any of them fail, it cannot be said that it was for want of proper equipment. Manufacturers have turned out the most splendid stuff and, instead of sitting back now and resting on their laurels, they are still working day by day to improve their appliances. It will certainly not be their fault if success does not ultimately come to mass production poultry-keeping.

We are going to offer you two statements which we believe to be true and yet which in one way are rather opposite to each other: The first one is that mass production is not only here to stay, but that it will be adopted more and more; and the second is that much of the present troubles of the industry have been due directly to mass production.

Revising old methods

It will be seen, then, to make a success of mass production permanently, it follows that a revision of present methods will be necessary. In the hands of careless or unscrupulous men it is a menace, because of the quality of the stock (for replacement work) sold; in the hands of the careful and honest it will be the only means of making a good profit.

It will be conceded that much of the lack of stamina, much of the increase of the small-egg layer, of the disease pre-disposed birds; much of the dissemination of disease has been due to the factory methods adopted. This applies to stock sold in any farm.

Where the poultry-keeper has adopted mass production for his own uses and not for re-sale as stock (e.g., battery table chicken), then failure has been due to ignorance of housing, feeding and management and lack of sheer brain work. In both cases the result has been disappointment for the buyer and producer respectively.

Suspicions aroused

This has caused mass production to be regarded suspiciously, to be denounced by the old school as dangerous, to be made a laughing stock and the chief topic of idle chatter at all meetings of poultry-keepers, and to be dogmatically vetoed by those who have been unfortunate enough to have lost money in the initial attempts.

Again, we say that, intelligently and correctly run (correct to the last detail), there is a huge future for factory methods.

How, then, are we able to differentiate between a dangerous and a safe procedure?

The answer to every open minded man is, that so far as the extent of our present knowledge will allow, mass production can safely be entertained when the result has not to be used for reproduction purposes.

In other words, where the product is to be sold for killing or solely for egg-production, then factory methods may obtain; but where the product has to reproduce its kind, then it will be necessary to return to the advice of Mother Nature and breed hardy; rear with far more space than is at present allowed and feed for strength and stamina rather than for hurried results.

Thus, while table chicken may safely be reared, grown and then fattened in batteries or intensively, let the birds which bred those chickens live under just the opposite conditions.

Breeding dangers

If this is not done, and factory methods are applied to the keeping of breeding or replacement stock, the result must inevitably be a reduction of stamina and an increase of disease.

What is more, progeny from such stock will also be decidedly un-profitable - almost impossible in many cases.

In the same way it is quite feasible to keep layers in batteries, one pullet per cage, in tiers in large houses and keep them permanently confined for their laying life. Our knowledge of feeding now permits this to be done.

The batteries - one type of which is shown in the photo at the top of the page - consist of a series of single-bird cages, tiered up in banks of three or four rows. The bids are placed in the cages at the start of their laying life and remain there til it is no longer profitable for them to do so.

The criticism has been levelled against the layer battery that it is cruel to the birds. We are able definitely to state that this is not the case. In all the batteries of this kind that we have ever seen, the birds have appeared to be as bright and cheerful as if in the open field or littered scratching shed.

Monster incubators

In the same way we can hatch in cabinet or mammoth incubators thousands of chicks for killing at 16 weeks and rear them under similar factory conditions. The greatest emphasis has to be placed, however, on the fact that those layers, or those hatching-eggs or those day-old chicks, must have been produced by the most perfect, healthy, vigorous breeding stock possible, they themselves having been bred from breeders of similar hardiness and vigour.

A thorn in the side of many poultry keepers is the poor quality of the chicks sent out by some of shall we call them "professional hatcheries." In many instances they not only have been almost impossible to rear, but have laid completely unprofitably.

It should be realized that these disgusting results have not resulted from the "mass" methods, but from a complete absence of control of the breeding stock, the demand (by poultry keepers who put low price first) for the chicks from these hatcheries being far greater than the number of eggs available to them for hatching.

The result was that they bought in eggs for incubating from any source, dangerous or otherwise.

Are hatching chicks safe to buy?

Many hatcheries are above suspicion and are turning out excellent stuff, but this is due to the fact that the breeding stock is above reproach. Whether a poultry keeper is safe in buying from a hatchery depends upon the ability of the proprietor or manager of that hatchery in exercising the most perfect control of the breeding farms which supply him with eggs.

Stock hatched for cheap eggs can never be of any use, for the cost to the breeder of ensuing stamina and health is far more than the selling price of those eggs.

To the poultry-keeper then, we say that mass production may be safely adopted by you, and an increase in profit obtained provided you go slow to start and adopt the exactly correct methods.

To the buyer of mass-produced stock we say that it is up to you to be certain in yourself that the stuff ordered is of a sufficiently high quality and of the exact correct purpose for your job.