Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ladymacleod, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. ladymacleod

    ladymacleod Hatching

    Sep 4, 2007

    I'm a writer and I've come upon your forum doing research. I have a couple leaving Philadelphia in 1854 and going to the Montana territory by way of Saint Louis and the Oregon trail. What kind of chickens would they take, and most of all how would they transport them? In the wagon? In a pen? The wagons only move at 2miles/hour - would the chickens stay with the wagon if let free? do they have to carry feed or can the chickens eat off the land?

    Thank you very much for your time.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2007
  2. chickflick

    chickflick Crowing

    Mar 10, 2007
    [​IMG] wasn't alive then
  3. Iluvmychickens

    Iluvmychickens Songster

    Jun 27, 2007
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I would think they would have been in wooden cages. I assummed this from watching very old black and white westerns then i was a kid.
  4. ncgnance

    ncgnance Songster

    Aug 22, 2007
    Iredell County, NC
    My guess is they would have kept them penned so the hens could have a nest to lay in. Also, they wouldn't have wanted to look for chickens in "hostile" territory. Dominiques, maybe Javas. Hope those nests had lots of straw for padding. Those wagons bounced along pretty good. LOL Sometimes I wish I HAD been born back then.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2007
  5. GoodEgg

    GoodEgg Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    NW Florida
    Didn't someone post about reenactment here lately? I thought I read something about camping with chickens, and housing them in wooden cages.

    I can't answer any of the questions, but it seems most likely they would have kept them in cages most if not all the time. Otherwise I don't think the chickens would have come back?

    And I have NO idea, but if I was traveling with limited space and wanted to start a flock where I was going, I'd consider taking a bunch of chicks, maybe, so I could take more in a smaller cage than full grown chickens would let me do. Or more likely a box ...

    And wouldn't they have to feed them? I don't think they could free range to get enough nourishment in a short time at camp, especially if they camped when it was near dark. And with lots of unknown predators around, I wouldn't want to turn MY chickens loose. (Though they probably wouldn't wander too far, since basically every night would be unfamiliar territory?)

    Just guesses mostly on my part. But search for "camping with chickens" and you might find something?

    Ah ... I found it ... not sure if there is any info you can use here though ...

    Good luck finding the info you need! [​IMG]

  6. Mulemom

    Mulemom Songster

    May 8, 2007
    Sacramento, CA
    Hello ladymacleod,

    I am the one that belongs to the reenactment group. There is a large group of reenactors that frequent this forum Most are very serious reenactors and have done LOTS of research. I bet if you pose your question there you will get all kinds of info.

    Here's what I would guess...Cages, and as many as you could cram into a cage. I don't think humane treatment was at the top of the list when your own survival took so much time and energy. No chicks because the mortality rate would be too high with that hard long journey. Mostly hens, but several roosters for food along the way. They did not get out of the cage until it was time to go to the pot.

    I will be trying to take a couple of hens with me to our primitive camp this month. I still need to research the proper crate I need to build. Our camp is more of a hunting camp, and we have permanent shelter and pole corral there. The people who lived like that would have brought their laying hens and a couple of roosters. I am only bringing two of my friendliest hens. They will free range during the day because they follow me around anyway, and they will sleep in the crate in my tent/shelter at night. (no roosters, my daughters mule plays that role with the wakeup call).

    I'll post the pictures of them in camp and riding on the top of the pack mule when we get back.

    Are you writting a book? Have you written other things on that era? Our club does the pre 1840 mountain man thing, but my family's interest is more colonial. We live in CA, so there's not a lot of colonial history out here. We blend in just fine.

    Just for fun here's a pic of my dd in the camp kitchen.

    I think now I'll follow my own advice and go ask the experts about the proper crate.
  7. serendipity22

    serendipity22 Songster

    Jul 1, 2007

    You ever been to Southport, NC?
  8. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    With just a quick search of google I found references to wooden crates of chickens on the wagon trains. There was a PBS site that had diary entries that mentioned they carried chickens and let them run around when they stopped for the evening. Mentions of Indians taking chickens...

    I don't know if the average barnyard chicken back then would have been of any purebred variety or they were just "barnyard chickens" of mixed pedigree. Outside of the breeders, poultry fanciers, and suppliers of poultry, would a farm back then only keep a specific breed? Would they replace a flock often with new purebred stock or would they have generations of chickens far removed from their original stock? I don't know...

    As far as reds and dominiqes, yes, they are older America breeds, but many of the American breeds weren't developed or defined until the second half of the 19th century, if they were earlier they probably weren't widespread. I'd say you'd have to look at the imported european/asiatic breeds like javas, cochins, and leghorns.

    I doubt they carried any "feed", per se. Most of what they carried was staples for themselves; flour, bacon, salt, hard tack, beans, rice, sugar, coffee, etc. The animals (oxen, horses, milk cows) were just grazed in the evening. I would suppose the chickens to do the same, with maybe a few meal scraps and plenty of dung piles to root through...
  9. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    An excerpt from Backyard Poultry Magazine:

    Traditional American Poultry

    By Craig Russell

    Traditional poultry keeping and traditional poultry are little remembered in modern North America. Books written for the small flock owner during the past 50 years have been little more than scaled-down versions of commercial programs. If you want poultry in your back yard, consider an old time breed, kept the old fashioned way.

    Colonial flocks are often described as undistinguished mongrels, dismissed as Dung Hill chickens. It's an unfair characterization that was asserted by self-styled experts, often academics and government officials, in the latter 19th century. Their contention that most early chickens were simply dung hill mongrels was considered laughable by the Old Timers.

    This group of Dominiques owned by Adria Weatherbee are very true to the traditional breed. They have the flatter, more cushion-like combs, unlike the more modern ones with whose combs are more prominent and spikier. The rooster is also the correct stockier build. Photo courtesy of Adria Weatherbee.

    Games were very common as utility fowl in the early days. Dung Hill was a term that Cockers, cock fighters, used to describe chickens that were not Games. It did not necessarily imply a mixed origin.

    Promotion of recently created breeds in which the writers had an economic interest played a role in the way breeds were portrayed after the 1870s. According to the old time poultrymen, the literary changes preceded any actual changes in the habits of typical poultry keepers.

    Post Civil War Poultry

    Prior to the Civil War and in the years directly following it, poultry books proclaimed Dominiques, Dorkings and Games as popular breeds. Dorkings and Games were generally considered the best table fowl and were used to produce an early market cross. Dorkings were crossed with Brahmas to produce another popular market hybrid. But by the late 1800s, writers were claiming Dominiques were too small, Dorkings were not popular, Games were tough, and that Americans preferred chickens with yellow skin.

    Nevertheless, Games, Dominiques and Dorkings, in that order, remained the most common chickens on diversified farms and with small flock owners in many rural areas. In and around towns, folks who wanted to have something different from their neighbors had a little bit of everything.

    Rocks and Leghorns were the dominant commercial breeds by the late 1800s. Hamburgs, Polish and Spanish had dominated egg production from the 18th century until the late 19th century, when Leghorns became the dominant commercial egg breed. On the meat side, commercial poultry operations had gone to Rocks, with Wyandottes playing an important secondary role. Around major Eastern cities some large operations retained Black chickens, the Javas and their descendants, the Giants. Others raised Dorkings for British and French immigrants who wanted a five-toed, white-skinned fowl.
  10. Cheryl

    Cheryl Songster

    OK...what is backyard poultry magazine and do I need to get it?

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