Memories of the
Poultry Industry of Cowling
INDEX OF AUTHORS:
i.) David Hoyle
ii.) Maureen Cowgill & Catherine Smith
iii.) Local Press, June
1939 - 'Poultry Congress Delegates'
iv.) Local Press - Well
known Poultry Farmers Death
Old Chick Industries in Cowling developing from pre 1914 to 1960's.'
entrepreneurs sent men and boys buying 'clockers' or broody hens round the
countryside of Craven. My Father as a youth worked part time from School for
Frank Snowden - 'Towatt'. A flat cart (2 wheels) and a one eyed horse to
farms and amateur poultry keepers with instructions to pay no more than 2
shillings and sixpence per hen also to barter where he could, this he did
between the ages of twelve and fifteen on a Saturday morning until bedtime.
Suppliers were kept secret by buyers Father under threat of sacking and a
good hiding should be betray his trust. Taking his own bating and cold tea .
householders tried small hatcheries in their home cellars with paraffin
heated incubators for small customers, very few made the big time as
competition was keen. The main hatcheries were folk with ability to inherit
or buy small holdings enabling them to build or adapt old buildings. i.e.
Barns, piggeries, cart sheds, etc into warmer, well floored spaces to house
large American type incubators. Several makes purchased 'Petersimes &
Robbins' were the most popular and also the most expensive, although family
money was on occasion pooled to buy these incubators. profits were out of
proportion to anything working folk could imagine, and fortunes were made
quickly as efficiency and advertising were developed the 1920's to the
1950's were day old and hey days, a season of four months in the year of
intensive sometimes round the clock hatching produced scores of thousands of
day olds, they were taken to Kildwick station, boxed in hay 25 per box.
Chicks were despatched countrywide on the strength of good advertising and
good service. Pride and efficiency of breeding developed as industry
developed. The big revolution cam in the early 1930's as day olds were sexed
by Japanese sexers. Cocks and pullets sorted with 95% efficiency was an
enormous boost to sales. Mr Hattori, Mr Yoshida & Mr. Tamaguchi doing the
mainstream, working among all the main hatcheries in the village.
all year in the village they had eight months of the year to develop their
Tennis and table tennis in particular. To watch them at work was
fascinating. Chicks were brought to them, sitting at small benches with two
square holes having shoots underneath pullets being carefully packed and
cockerels drowned immediately before they could develop appetites, a
thousand per hour being normal. The incubators could hold up to 20, 000 eggs
per hatch. Hey farm had 11 incubators and was probably the largest producer.
Frank Snowden as President of the International Poultry Federation
concentrated on top grade breeding. Popular breeds were light Sussex white,
Leghorn brown, Black Exchequers, Ancona, Wyndottes, Buff rocks, Hamden Plume
Well Summers & Rhode Island Reds. Unsold day olds were brought up in brooder
houses up to 100 per enclosure to month olds, then sold as healthy egg
brooder enclosures needed a large brooder house, which was a long wooden
building of 150ft x 25ft approx. Fowl Pest in 1951 followed by rail power
and transport strikes, helped to close the industry locally.
Written by David Hoyle June 2005.
'Our days in the chick
year towards the end of January we would be thinking of starting our new
season. It was a very busy time for those engaged in producing thousands of
day old baby chicks. By the 1930s when electricity was available the big
machines were being used, where formerly small paraffin incubators were used
in cellars or outhouses.
Dad and one or two other men went to London to the World Poultry Exhibition
to buy some of the latest machines made by Robbins of Denver, Colorado, USA.
The large ones would hold 24,000 eggs. We also had them holding 18,000 and
15,000 eggs. We hatched on Mondays and Thursdays and sometimes on Sundays.
Our hatching eggs had to be collected each week in wooden cases that held
360 eggs, 30 eggs to a tray. These came from a Longridge and Ribchester area
also Cumberland, Westmorland and Dentdale. Locally we collected Lothersdale
and Cononley. The eggs had to all be placed on special trays pointed end
down and then fastened into the machine and turned twice a day
automatically, after about ten days we had to check the eggs with a powerful
lamp to see which eggs were infertile or clear as we called them. These
wanted to be removed and local bakers would use the eggs, also they took the
cracked eggs we had no use for.
All the fertile eggs had to be transferred on to a different type of wire
tray with a lid for the final hatching in 11 days time. We had many
different breeds all the different coloured Leghorns which were termed as
light breeds. Ancona’s, Black Minorca’s, Blue Andalucians, Rhode Island
Reds, Light Sussex, Barred Rocks also the breeds were often crossed say
Brown Leghorn with Rhode Island Reds. Sometimes we would hatch Indian Game
or some bantams. There are such a lot of different breeds, many really
lovely to look at but most people wanted good egg producers.
Throughout the years we had many different chick sexers, quite a number came
from Hebden Bridge as that was like Cowling, a popular place for hatcheries,
our last man was a local farmer/sexer. We used to advertise in the Farmers
Weekly and the Poultry magazines.
being sexed the chicks were despatched in cardboard boxes lined with hay and
holes around the sides so they didn't smother. The boxes held either 12 or
25 chicks, tied up with twine and labeled to the customer. All had to go to
Kildwick or Skipton Station, and very few died in transit considering the
thousands that were dispatched every week. We had customers all over
England, Scotland and Wales, and also sent a lot to the Scottish Islands so
the chicks had to go by ferry to their final destination.
The railways must have been very efficient in those days because a lot of
live stock traveled by rail.
We once sent a stock cockerel to Malaya. Dad wondered if it would arrive
alright as it had to go by sea taking between five or six weeks, but the
purchaser said it arrived in good condition and he was delighted.
All our cardboard boxes were bought from Fields of Bradford and Birtwistle's
of Waterfoot, near Rawtenstall. The twine was always supplied by Metcalfe's
by the Queens Hotel in Keighley. All our chick and poultry food was
purchased from Pearson’s Corn Mill at Glusburn. The Ray-o-vital chick feed
came in cotton sacks, which made good tea towels.
When our season finished at the end of June all the equipment had to be
scrubbed and disinfected the machines all cleaned thoroughly all the walls
were brushed down and white washed. We had a Coke boiler to run the heating
system and also a generator for the few occasions that the electric went
off. After all the cleaning had been done we had to go to blood test all the
stock we would be using for the following season, this was to see if they
were carriers of BWD (Bacterial White Diarrhoea). Every bird had to be caught and a vein under its
wing pricked then a sample of blood mixed with a drop of Antigen on a white
tile, if the blood was clear it was alright, but if the blood was mottled
that was a carrier and must be removed from the flock.
Sometimes we would travel every day to our destinations, it meant a very
early start as there was lots of walking as many kept their hens a long way
from the farm. Occasionally we would stay overnight to save a long journey.
There were some real characters amongst the old dales farmers that we met
and we shall never see their like again.
Written by Maureen Cowgill and Catherine Smith, August 2005.
Rhode Island Red
The Larger Hatcheries of
Cowling East & West
Poultry Farm, Lane Ends, Cowling
Poultry Farm, Lane Ends, Cowling
Local Press - June 30th 1939
'Poultry Congress Delegates'
Cowling Man to Visit U.S.A. Next Month
NATIONAL COUNCIL HEAD
Mr. Frank Snowden, of Cowling, the well-known
breeder and authority on poultry, figures in the list of delegates to
represent the Government at the World's Poultry Congress and Exposition at
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
His inclusion in the list was communicated to
him in the following letter from the Economic Advisory Committee to the
'The Prime Minister has had under
consideration the question of the representation of His Majesty's Government
in the United Kingdom at the seventh World's Poultry Congress and
Exposition, which is to be held at Cleveland, Ohio, from the 28th July to
7th August, 1939. After consideration with the department, and other
organisations concerned, the Prime Minister has constituted the following
delegation to represent His Majesty's Government at this congress'
Mr. Snowden's name is among the list of
nineteen men who comprise the delegation. Of this number, sixteen are
distinguished civil servants with permanent positions at the Ministry of
Agriculture. Of the three who represent the producing side of the industry,
Mr. Frank Snowden is one.
The delegation will sail for America on July
19th, by the 'Mauretania' and the British Embassy in Washington has been
informed of the official nature of the visit.
Apart from the number of official engagements
which he will have as a member of the Government delegation, Mr. Snowden, as
president of the National Poultry Council of Great Britain - a distinction
conferred upon him this week at Blackpool - will be called upon to be
spokesman for British Poultry producers and expects to have a full programme
whilst in America.
During a lifetime's work in the industry. Mr.
Snowden has been responsible for many improvements in production and has
done much to improve the status of British poultry both at home and abroad.
'Loss to Cowling'
Well-known Poultry farmer's Death.
Mr. Arthur Stephenson, a well known poultry
farmer, of Braemar, Lane Ends, Cowling, died suddenly on Wednesday. He had
visited Keighley on Tuesday, and in the evening attended a lecture at the
Ickornshaw Sunday School. He was taken ill in the early hours of Wednesday
morning with congestion of the lungs and heart trouble and passed away the
same day. He was 59 years of age, and was one of the pioneers of the poultry
industry. He started business nearly 40 years ago, and was one of the first
in the district to send a hatching of chickens away by rail. His business at
Scar poultry farm increased through hard work, and subsequently developed
into one of the best known farms in the trade.
LABOUR MOVEMENT PIONEER
Mr. Stephenson was also one of the pioneers of the Labour movement in
Cowling, and in the early days was the leading spirit among the small group
of advanced radicals in the district. He was a disciple of Philip Snowden
and had remained ever since a keen admirer and a close friend of the famous
statesman. He and Lord Snowden kept up a regular correspondence and Mr.
Stephenson was also a life long friend of Tom Snowden, of Bingley, ex MP of
Accrington. The three got together whenever circumstances permitted and in
former days spent several holidays together.
A self educated man, Mr. Stephenson was a keen student of politics with
various branches of literature. He has travelled considerably and spent
holidays in various parts of (text unreadable) being particularly fond of
inspirational places of historical interest . (text unreadable) was a
generous contributor to funds of the Labour party, but also a generous
patron of various institutions in Cowling, where he resided all of his life
and a valued supporter of the welfare movement. Few (text unreadable)
Cowling were more highly esteemed and he had a great many friends. Mr.
Stephenson leaves a widow and two daughters behind. (Mrs. T Snowden of
Cowling and Mrs C Broughton of Cowling).
Mr. Stephenson died on 23rd January 1935.
Credits - Photo kindly contributed by Mr.
Hugh Broughton, grandson of Mr. Arthur Stephenson