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commendable features of the Smithfield fat-stock show is the publication of details of almost every animal exhibited regarding its age, weight, gains made, and slaughter value (dressed weight). A similar publicity of details on the averages of carload lots, if possible, with some information as to character and amount of feed consumed and effect of feed on the meat, and a statement regarding the management of the exhibit during the course of preparation, would undoubtedly be of great value and interest to readers.
Our stock raisers who visit the shows have little difficulty in properly appreciating the merits of the high-class exhibits, yet for lack of detailed information as to how such results are accomplished they are apt to carry away the false impression that such exhibits can be produced only at a cost that would mean a loss from the commercial standpoint, and so the object lesson has little value for them. However, with the present progressive development of live-stock shows it can reasonably be expected that such additional information will eventually be available to the public.
THE VALUE OF THE POULTRY SHOW."
By ROB R. SLOCUM,
Poultry Assistant, Animal Husbandry Office.
Broadly speaking, we may consider the value of the poultry show to those participating and to others as falling under three heads: (1) Educational, (2) commercial, (3) social. But before discussing these various values it may be of interest to give some consideration first to the different classes or groups of people that generally frequent poultry shows.
THE PATRONS OF POULTRY SHOWS.
In attending a good-sized representative show for the first time one is struck almost as forcibly by the number and variety of types of human beings present as by the number and variety of poultry. Here we find persons of all classes and all stations in life, side by side, on a footing of equality and with a fraternal feeling aroused by the common admiration for poultry. Compared with other branches of live stock the poultry industry is fortunate because of the fact that more persons are interested in it than in any of the others.
We find the crowd enjoying the show to be mostly composed of the following three classes fanciers, transient visitors, and plain or utility poultrymen. The fanciers comprise the exhibitors at the show, while there are many others actively engaged in the fancy business who either as a matter of business or for pleasure are attending the show although not exhibiting. This class is one of the largest and undoubtedly the most interested group. The transient visitors make up, perhaps, the most numerous of the three groups. This class is usually quite composite in character, including mostly city dwellers, many of whom have kept or are keeping a few hens and who are consequently interested, and others who are interested in but a casual way and who attend the show largely out of curiosity. The third class— the poultrymen-the writer believes to be by far the smallest, a condition which is, to say the least, deplorable. This group includes a few farmers who keep a few hens and who have happened to be in the city at the time of the show; also a few exclusive poultrymen who keep
This article is based on a paper read during the Washington Poultry Show, January 29, 1909.
hens for eggs or meat alone and pay no attention to fancy points or, in many cases, even to whether their stock is purebred. These men must attend largely out of curiosity, for aside from the industrial exhibits there can be little benefit from their standpoint to be derived from a modern poultry show. This, as will be pointed out later, is not exactly the fault of the show, but rather of the state of the industry. It is possible, however, that something can be done to bind together more closely the interests of the purely utility poultryman and the poultry fancier, a condition which could hardly fail to be an improvement and an advantage and a consummation greatly to be desired. There is still another fairly large group of show patrons which is composed of dealers and manufacturers of poultry appliances and of poultry journalists. The members of this group attend, presumably, both for business reasons and for pleasure.
EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF POULTRY SHOWS.
The educational value of the poultry show to the fancier, and particularly to the beginner, can not be overestimated. A study of the standard or other descriptions without the opportunity to see live specimens could never give the clear, concise conception of a variety which the poultry show with its numerous well-bred birds creates. Nor is this benefit lost to the experienced fancier, for every opportunity which he gets to see the birds of his competitors and to meet and exchange ideas with his fellow-breeders is of direct educational value. After all, poultry breeding, like all other live-stock breeding, follows certain fashions, which are constantly changing more or less slowly, and for this reason the fancier who never visits the poultry show and never has opportunity to observe other men's stock can scarcely expect to keep abreast of these fashions in birds. To the fanciers, therefore, both old and new, the poultry show is a liberal education, and in some sense a necessity.
To those not particularly familiar with poultry and who attend the show largely from curiosity the exhibition has also a distinct educational value. It opens their eyes to the extent and degree to which poultry breeding has been carried, and brings a realization of the importance of the industry. In this relation the show has a direct value. to the industry in arousing interest in poultry breeding and in gaining many new recruits.
To the plain or utility poultry man the show has, of course, an educational value. It may open his eyes to the value of purebred stock as compared with scrub or mongrel stock, though here it would seem to fail somewhat in its possibilities. The writer has been informed, however, that this educational influence is felt in the increasing difficulty which is met by fanciers in selling cull stock. The industrial exhibits are also valuable to the poultry man, quite as much so, in fact,
as to the fancier. To this class the show should have a much more farreaching effect than at present exists, and it is in this respect that reforms should be initiated.
Any discussion of the educational value would be incomplete without mentioning the recent very general adoption of the plan of holding institutes in conjunction with poultry shows. These so far have seemed to prove quite satisfactory, and the demand for them seems to be increasing.
The American Poultry Association has put itself on record as encouraging the holding of these institutes, and has thus done a valuable piece of work.
The publicity given to the poultry show has also a salutary effect on the industry by keeping it in the public view and bringing to the realization of the people as a whole the vastness of the industry and its widespread interest among all classes. While hard to show as a concrete benefit, this value is nevertheless very definite and very real, and the industry as a whole owes much to the show as a result.
The commercial value of poultry shows is principally manifest in the case of the fanciers and dealers in poultry supplies and the publishers of poultry literature. Here the fancier may show the most finished result of his labors, and because of many appreciative observers obtain adequate prices for such as he has for sale. The show serves as a market where the producer of the best brings his wares, and where those looking for the best and ready to pay for it come with the intention of buying. Without such shows, sales for large sums, such as we now commonly hear of, would be of infrequent occurrence, and would probably never have reached the present prices. Much of the fanciers' most lucrative trade may be traced to these shows. A prominent breeder recently stated that he could trace. $12,000 worth of business during the past year directly to a single large show. The poultry show certainly does not fail in this respect. The dealer in supplies and the publishers have the opportunity to exhibit their wares in a complete state to a very large number of interested persons, and in this way bring about the introduction of many excellent devices and the circulation of much valuable information more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Needless to say this is a great benefit to dealers and to the poultry public as well.
To the plain or utility poultry man, however, the commercial value is below what it should be. Certainly some sales of this character are made and some business is thus obtained, but this is far below
what would seem possible, and improvement in this respect can only be brought about by emphasizing the utility attraction of the show.
This phase of the poultry show has been mentioned. There is, of course, no concrete way of measuring this value, but it is well recognized that much pleasure and benefit of a social character is always obtained where a body of men with similar interests meet and have an opportunity to get in touch with one another. It is hardly necessary to enlarge upon this subject; anyone who has ever attended a poultry show must have felt this influence strongly.
FAILURE TO EMPHASIZE SUFFICIENTLY THE UTILITY SIDE.
So far we have dealt largely with the advantages of the poultry show, which are undoubtedly great and scarcely possible of overestimation. At the same time it has certain shortcomings and in certain respects fails to perform much good of which it would appear capable. The greatest of these shortcomings, and perhaps the only one of importance, is the failure to emphasize sufficiently the utility side of the industry and to provide the same advantages both educational and commercial for the plain poultryman that it does for the fancier.
It is not the intention here to belittle or decry in the slightest the present breeding of fancy poultry. This activity is a most laudable occupation and represents a very highly developed art. Neither is it meant to criticise the American Standard of Perfection. So far as the writer is aware, the present standard fulfills most admirably the object for which it was created, and is a work which shows the result of a great deal of thought and labor. In constructing it, however, there does not seem to have been a conscious and well-directed effort to increase the utility value of the poultry. It has undoubtedly accomplished this to some extent, but not to the full possibility, and this failure has no doubt been due to the lack of a general understanding of the definite principles back of these utility qualities. In other words, the purely fancy points have been pushed forward faster than the utility qualities, with the result that from the utility standpoint the former receive too great a degree of emphasis.
INFLUENCE OF CONFORMATION ON UTILITY QUALITIES.
As compared with other live-stock industries the poultry industry is seriously handicapped through lack of certain specific knowledge. Take, for instance, the dairy industry. A certain definite correlation is acknowledged to exist between the conformation and other physical characteristics of the cow and her power to produce milk.