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    Utility Poultry. How it was then.

    Improved Indian Game.

     

    The term ‘utility’used in poultry goes back to the end of the last war 1939-45.
    There was a serious shortage of food, being as we were hardly getting any imports due to the UBoats stopping ships getting in from abroad…mainly the USA.

    Everybody was expected to produce as much food as possible and with the boys coming home from abroad and getting de-mobbed there was huge amounts of rebuilding to do, not only the fabric of the towns and cities that got hit, but social structure of where they had lived.

    Food was still in very short supply and hundreds and hundreds of small scale poultry farms producing eggs..not so many poultry meat farms..were set up,(some grant funded to help men to earn a living and support a family).

    The wheat and other grain that was grown was suppose to all go through WARAG (fish and food dept ) and be weighed and payed.

    You needed a ration card and if you didn’t have one you couldn’t get your grain qota..except on the black market..

    To get wheat or any poultry feed was difficult to say the least and poultry farmers needed to get the most eggs out for the least amount of corn put in…(no pellets in those days) so they would usually buy chicks or growers in and grow them on or buy in at POL.

    As is life some poultry suppliers sold birds that were not utilizing the feed to give the best results and a lot of new keeper hit the wall,mainly down to bad husbandry as most dived in at the deep end and failed.

    It was chaos, so trial stations were set up to test groups of birds from different suppliers and the laying results over a set period of time were published in the poultry press and with the results came the orders.If you had a strain of birds that gave the best laying results on a set amount of feed over a certain time you had orders coming out of your ears.
    Anyone that didn’t lost out to the breeders that had entered and proved thier birds.

    They could put on the advert UTILITY.
    Bit like a michelin star system.

    As for the meat trade.
    When I got to 13 years old I could work in the ‘Packing station’ where the eggs from miles around were collected by lorry..a scania in those days..and brought in for gradeing.The other side to this station was poultry meat…spent hens and stags.

    Late 50′s very early 60′s the incoming birds were nearly all leghorns,mainly White with Brown next and black next.A few kept Sussex and Rhode Island.
    I was on the Killing line….It was different in thoses days you had to earn and a school holiday job at least got me some money.

    Feed was seen to be wasted rearing cockerels, as the cost of the feed was more often than not more than the dressed weight of the bird..
    Payment was made on the total weight of the birds after dressing..

    The Stags were cockerels, always a cross bred,usually RIR X LS and the were big and took a lot of handleing.Some of these birds would dress out at 8lbs thats oven ready so around 11 lbs live weight.

    So I think the word utility is mainly used for laying birds that utilised the feed.

    There are very few utility breeders of tradional poultry left I’m afraid.
    In the mid 60′ the new Hybrids started showing up..birds designed to produce eggs..the ultimate Utilty breeds and the vast majority of farmers turned over to them and a major loss to the British poultry industry started, as the strains of top layers were lost to factory type producers of the new hybrids filled the market place.

    A few hung on..mainly older keepers who had put so much work into keeping their lines going, but as they grew old and died the breeds went with them.

    I am proud to say I have kept at least 1 of those lines going for all these years and have bred other breeds towards the standards that they had in those days.

     

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