Tales from the Morgue: Motherless biddies

2014-03-24T09:45:00Z 2014-04-28T06:13:03Z Tales from the Morgue: Motherless biddiesJohanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 24, 2014 9:45 am  • 

Electricity is a wonderful thing. We know this best when we don't have it for a while.

Electric incubators for eggs would certainly be easier than those more common at the beginning of the 20th century. But are the chicks from electric incubators really smarter than those from incubators heated by other methods?

From the Arizona Daily Star, Wednesday March 18, 1914:

 

Now Motherless Biddies Are Last Word in Science
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Simply Hook Incubator Up to Electric Current; Fish for Three Weeks
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The latest thing in the Tucson poultry world, aside from the recent organization of the Poultry association, is the arrival of chicks from California hatched by electricity. They are now being sold by local dealers to poultry raisers who desire to dispense with the worry and bother of setting hens.

It is claimed that the incubation of eggs by electricity represents the very foremost advance that hen science is capable of. Hitherto it has been necessary for the breeder to stay up half the night fussing with the incubator in an effort to make the temperature stay around the proper incubating point. Now everything is changed by the introduction of the electrical incubator.

The breeder simply puts the eggs in the incubator and turns on the switch, and is then able to go out motoring or playing golf, or doing any of the aristocratic things that chicken fanciers are able to do since the high cost of eggs and poultry. In about three weeks the chickens hatch out and he turns the current off and gets a check ready for the collector from the electric light company. He can then either dispose of the chicks or have them brooded in an electric brooder.

It is claimed that the chicks are more active, smarter and healthier than those raised by steam or hot air, and that the pullets lay faster and that the roosters can crow louder. It's a great system but even then there are drawbacks.

The first crop of California chicks was entirely ruined this season when the floods came and washed out a few power houses. The poor chicks died in the shells and it was necessary for the poultry raisers to get a fresh supply of eggs and wait till the electric light companies got a fresh start. And in the meantime Tucson raisers had to wait.

Even 100 years later one can't be absolutely sure that there will not be a power outage. Those who can't afford such an event must have generators and plenty of fuel for them.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com

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