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REARING PARTRIDGES FROM EGGS.
If you can get eggs, partridges are easily raised under hens. A particular sort of hen (the bantam) has been specially recommended, but I have found the ordinary one answer every purpose. Having a number of these at your disposal in the different farmyards in the neighbourhood, the partridges' eggs must be placed under them when they are sitting, and their own eggs withdrawn, and this can be easily done, without in the slightest degree alarming the hens, by the farmservant who is in the habit of attending upon and feeding the poultry. Whenever the bird leaves the nest, a few days before hatching, it will be as well to sprinkle warm milk-and-water on the eggs. As soon as the birds are hatched, or perhaps on the following day, if it can be conveniently postponed, as the young birds do not partake of any food under twenty-four hours, but derive all their support from the warmth imparted under the wings of the mother, they must be placed under a coop, with the old bird: this coop must have been constructed expressly, having a bottom to it, and small intervals in front through which the young birds can pass; to this, however, there must be a second coop attached, with open work, covered with netting, affording space for them to run about. After a few days, when the young birds become accustomed to the spot, the netting from the outer coop may be removed during the day, but replaced at night as a protection from vermin. The best place to have your coops is in an old kitchen-garden, walled in, as in this they will be more secure, and finding plenty of food, more readily learn to take care of themselves. In the first instance, you must feed them with eggs boiled hard, chopped up with cress, and with an abundant supply of ants' eggs: the latter is the best food you can give them.
Select a good aspect for your coops, so that the birds may have the benefit of the morning and midday sun, and be sheltered from the north winds. The young birds require great attention, and must be fed regularly three or four times a-day: each bird will require about one egg daily. If the weather be wet and cold, they will be very liable to a disease called the pip, and will require extra care and immediate attention, as they soon succumb to the first attacks of the malady if it be not counteracted, and these exhibit themselves by the bird's gasping for breath as if he were nearly suffocated, accompanied by weakness, so that in attempting to walk he falls down. Something of a stimulating character I have known afford instant relief and save the bird: three-fourths black pepper and one-fourth mustard, mixed together with a little butter, and made into small pills, and one pill given daily to each bird. Even if the birds be quite well, but the weather wet, one of these pills given on alternate days will be beneficial, acting as a preventive. It will be much better to have the coops upon some gravelly ground than upon turf; if near to some groundsil and lettuce so much the better. Pheasants can be reared in the same manner. Curds are also a good and safe food for young birds, but the staple food must be ants' eggs.
Young pheasants are also subject to a disease called the gapes; this may be cured by the same remedy as the pip. The coops of both partridge and pheasant ought to be moved every morning; if they be placed on the grass, it ought to be mowed short, and they ought not to be let out of their coops till the dew be off. Little heaps of gravel should be made for them to roll themselves in. No water should be given till they are a month old, and then some saffron must always be put in it. As the birds become strong, boiled rice may be given in addition to their other food, especially if it be observed that they have diarrhoea, to which they are sometimes subject. Should rice fail in stopping it, some alum may be boiled with it. Should it not be possible to procure a sufficient supply of ants' eggs, then maggots, or the larvas of wasps, may be used. The former may be procured from horse-flesh or bullock's liver, hung up in a warm place, under trees, with a tub underneath, with bran in it, to receive them. The larvae, if not wanted for immediate use, must be baked, to keep them serviceable, and prevent their arriving at maturity.
In former days, when game was not so abundant, nor so highly preserved as at the present time, spaniels were generally in use for pheasant shooting; and in a country where the fields were small, and surrounded by thick hedgerows and shaws, spaniels afforded excellent sport, particularly to two guns, one being on either side of the fence, especially where there was a mixture of game. With two brace of good spaniels, and one good beater, the widest hedgerow or shaw will be thoroughly ransacked, and every head of game forced out either on one side or the other; and as these lively and excitable little dogs are bustling about and giving tongue, the sportsman is kept in a continual state of pleasurable excitement, as to what kind of game is to succeed that which has just made its appearance; and as all sorts of game resort to hedgerows and shaws, they become a sort of sporting lottery, from which, in addition to pheasants, partridges, hares, and rabbits, an extra and unexpected prize, in the shape of a woodcock, may frequently be secured. In fact, in the winter, when the leaf is off, I don't know of prettier or more amusing sport than hedgerow and shaw shooting, with two brace of spaniels and a brother sportsman, in a country not overstocked with game, but where there is a slight sprinkling of everything, so that, with good shooting and a little fagging, a tolerable bag may be made. But this sort of oldfashioned shooting, which I partook of constantly in my younger days, and remember with pleasure, is now superseded by a different style of proceeding, consequent on the new and extensive system of preservation of game, but especially of pheasants.
In former days, if two guns killed their five or six brace of pheasants, with a mixture of partridges, hares, rabbits, and two or three woodcocks, the sport was considered most satisfactory; but now pheasants are all reserved for one or two great days, and if two or three hundred are not killed, "the battue" is thought nothing of; hence the number of pheasants, with loads of other game, sufficient for a winter's sport for two or three guns, that is sacrificed to the gratification of having one or two great days: and this vast slaughter is committed without the aid of any dogs, beyond,