Editorial from The Southern Planter, January 1942, and article on T.N. Wilcox
Poultry and the South
Let the doubting Thomases—those who say the South can’t grow chickens—read the article about the Wilcox Barred Rocks on page 35 [story below]. A pen of 13 hens from this Blue Ridge Mountain flock in the Georgia egg laying contest has just set a new world’s record for the breed—3,943 eggs in a year. One of the Wilcox hens layed 348 eggs in 365 days, and that, mind you, in a state where the average hen lays only 84 eggs a year.
There are no secrets to Mr. Wilcox’s success. He simply feeds laying mash, grain and grit; culls his poor producers and keeps his best layers for breeders; and does the small things of poultry production just a little bit better. What Mr. Wilcox has done any other careful North Carolinian can do. And in the present emergency, when the country needs more eggs, and is willing to pay handsomely for them, we believe Southern farmers can well afford to follow the Wilcox example.
Polk County Farmer Raises Prize Barred Rock Chickens
It is reassuring to visit a man like T.N. Wilcox of Polk County, in western North Carolina, who has climbed up on the side of a steep Blue Ridge Mountain slope and developed one of the finest flocks of Barred Rock chickens in the world.
“That statement covers a lot of territory,” you may say, but the official records of the Wilcox Rocks prove it. We were skeptical, too—we couldn’t believe that a North Carolina mountaineer, starting 10 years ago with 20 birds could develop a pen of 13 hens that averaged in the Georgia egg laying contest last year 303.3 eggs apiece to establish a new world’s record for the breed. But we drove back into the mountains in December and saw with our own eyes what this remarkable man has done with this remarkable breed.
Mr. Wilcox had the highest hen and the highest pen in the Georgia test. The 13 birds layed 3,943 eggs during the year to hang up a new all-time record for Barred Rocks. One of his hens layed 332 eggs and a second, not in the contest, however, produced the amazing total of 348 eggs in 365 days to set what is said to be a new record for a Barred Rock hen.
Has Only 20 Acres
Mr. Wilcox stared with only 20 acres of land in his mountain farm but has recently acquired 80 additional acres. He buys all of his feed. He has now between 700 and 800 birds, all of which are of high producing strains and are as alike in color and form as carbon copies. The laying houses, all of modern design, are made of native lumber and built by local farm labor. The steep mountainside gives good protection from winds; and affords excellent air and water drainage. A dozen Hampshire sheep keep the ranges and yards clean of weeds and rank growth of grass.
Mr. Wilcox developed his flock by introducing bred-to-lay strains, keeping careful trapnest records of production, and by culling and selling all but the very best layers. In addition, he feeds his birds all they will eat of a complete ration and manages them with his own expert hands. His income is derived from the sale of hatching eggs, baby chicks and superb breeding stock. Hatching eggs have been sold as high as $1 each, and $20 per 100 is not uncommon. A cockerel sold recently for $25. Even at these prices Mr. Wilcox can supply the demand for his stuff.
Pullets Start to Lay Early
The baby chicks are fed and brooded by modern methods and are ready for the range at 6 weeks of age. The range is well-drained clover, ryegrass and bluegrass sod. The pullets receive limited feeding on the range and are encouraged to pick large quantities of herbage. They are given growing mash, oats and cracked grain in clean hoppers, but these concentrates are not kept before them.
A mixture of planer shavings and wheat straw is used for litter in the laying houses. The scratch grain is fed in the litter. The scratching keeps te hens busy and happy, and provides exercise. A good commercial laying mash is kept before the hens in clean hoppers at all times. In addition to the scratch grain, fed at night, 10 quarts of oats is fed in the forenoon to each 100 hens. Pullets may receive a little lighter feeding of oats. Water, grit and oystershell are always before the birds.
Outside Range for Layers
The laying houses are so constructed that a slide door opens into a yard at the front. These yards are seeded in early fall and provide green pasturage for the hens on warm days in winter. The tender greens supply succulence, and add extra vitamins and minerals to the diet which increases general thrift and fertility. The yards are worked each year to keep down disease.