Canadian Poultry Magazine

Features 100th anniversary Notable People
Flowerdew Poultry farm

May 1927

October 12, 2012
By Canadian Poultry


A big flock of big white leghorns which lay big eggs in quantity which has earned them distinguished mention at egg laying contest for years passed are excellently housed on the Norfolk Poultry Farm established and operated by Eric S. Flowerdew.  For flock average these birds are among the larges, if not the actual largest of the breed in the Dominion – and no leghorns as large as the Flowerdew birds are seen south of the line.

There has never been an epidemic of disease on the place – Flowerdew thinks straw lofts in the poultry house have something to do whit his splendid record.  In the sixteenth week of the egg laying contest at Ottawa the Flowerdew leghorn pen took the lead, and it maintained that position for longer than any other pen of any breed had ever done previously from B.C.  This success at Ottawa is particularly pleasing and commendable: pleasing because B.C. birds have hitherto seemed unable to reproduce at Ottawa production they were capable of at home, and commendable because that achievement was the reward of careful breeding and proper feeding by a returned soldier settler in B.C. who up to comparatively recently had take no thought for poultry beyond to see that the eggs he ate were fairly fresh.

In last year’s contest at Aggassiz, where world’s records were made, the Flowerdew en finished third – 2592 eggs which scored 2932.9 points.  The Flowerdew pen at Aggassiz in 1923-24 was second pen for registering.  Mr Flowerdew thanks straw lofts in his houses for helping materially to maintain the health of his flock, as indicated.  He attributes the production of this flock, never more outstanding than this season of comparatively poor production so far, generally speaking, owing to climatic conditions, to his policy of carrying his birds through the moulting season on a light mash, and substituting for that light mash a “higher powered” laying mash later and accompanying the new feed regime with a night lunch.  He cuts out beef scrap from the light mash and feeds wet mash to pullets all the year round, mixed with skim milk and fed in the afternoon.  This schedule produced highly satisfactory results last winter and this spring when many poultrymen were confronted with a succession of problems affecting production largely due to variable and unseasonable – for poultry – spells of weather till late in the spring.  His birds get Epsom salts regularly, and when inspected by the editor of this journal looked in very good condition indeed.

Mr Flowerdew does not agree with some of the extreme criticism of light as applied to poultry progress and egg production.  “A man who was loafing could have a meal at three in the afternoon and sleep till eight the next morning and then get up for breakfast – but if that man worked hard he would want to eat in between those hours, or else he would break down.  The same with hens – lazy hens may get by, but hens to produce lots of eggs are all the beter for light and feed – extra light.  If hens are bred to lay so many eggs those hens can be got to produce those eggs by keeping them producing, and light is good for production”.

He feeds his “Night lunch” between eight and nine, scratch, and says that is a good time to visit the birds anyhow, as a little of color can usually be noticed then and points of detail attended to.  He keeps his birds in good condition through the winter, as is evidenced by the fact that his hatches this season have been quite as good as his hatches were last season, notwithstanding climatic drawbacks in the early part of the present season.  Within two weeks of his starting to feed his laying mash this season his egg production went up to over fifty per cent.  His hatches the first week in March ran 65 and 70 per cent – which was real good for this season.  His pedigree trays hatched, in March, 90 per cent and one actually 100 per cent.  Chicks incubated the last week of February had lost only four per cent at six weeks old – also exceptionally good for this by no means flattering spring.

His pen doing so splendidly at Ottawa were April and May hatched pullets all of which had started to lay before departing on the long trip east in October last – one of them had laid seven eggs before she left Coghlan.  They produced consistently all winter and took the lead in February.  One of that pen is high bird at Ottawa – 86 eggs in the first fifteen weeks of the contest.  That is a second generation registered bird out of an R.O.P. 299 egg bird ­– his own breeding.  As to size of eggs, the Flowerdrew flock is noted for laying lots of large eggs.  Mr Flowerdew says his aim is early production of eggs which will quickly score as extras – “The commercial poultryman wants eggs which fetch top price as extras quickly once his birds start laying, the fewer peewees he has the bigger his proportion of profit.”  He says the birds which lay the largest eggs lay most eggs; he adds that the difference in price between extras and peewees in the peak price of egg season is such as to make self evident the advantage of having birds which lay large eggs.  The Norfolk poultry farm has not shipped any peewees since November first last year “and thirty per cent of the pullets are laying extras after their first week – big birds which lay big eggs early.”

Mr Flowerdew paid attention to six of eggs right from the start of his poultry farming at Coghlan – made size of egg first and foremost consideration for some time in fact. In 1923-24 his pen was second for size of eggs in the Aggassiz contest – his pen in the present contest, incidental – suffered from infectious bronchitis after it had been there a few weeks.  Having achieved size of egg he turned his attention to increased numbers of eggs produced, and successfully, as the records of this contest pens and flock prove.

His largest laying house is 150 by 20, in seven compartments.  This is the main trap nest house, and 900 are being trapped there.  It has just been fitted with litter carrier.  He has a 60 by 26 house, another 60 by 24, another 30 by 20, and four special pens each 8 by 8.  There is a good range for each house; the flock is healthy and notably clean, the poultry houses are clean – and all the runs are clean.  Those runs are cultivated, planted to rye, limed regular.  Clean houses and birds are essential to egg production everyone knows – most poultrymen keep their houses and flocks clean; but not all poultrymen keep their runs and range clean.  There is an incinerator on the Norfolk Poultry Farm – and it does a lot of good work.  Mr Flowerdew holds that strict cleanliness and sanitation are essential unless the industry here is to suffer from a severe bump in the near future.  B.C. is comparatively new ground for intensive poultry farming, but soil contamination is a dread possibility he fears – almost a probability unless efficient measures are taken to prevent it.  Incidentally, this coincides with the view of the largest poultry breeder on Vancouver Island, recently expressed to the editor.

The feed boxes and mash hoppers in the houses hold a two weeks supply of mash.  The spring scratch was equal parts corn and wheat.  The laying mash was 50 lbs bran, 50 lbs shorts, 1 corn mean, 1 pulverised oats, 1 feed flour, 35 beef scrap, 35 fish meal, 25 charcoal, 35 alfalfa leaves and blossom, 1 per cent cod liver oil.

As stated previously Eric Flowerdew is a soldier settler.  He was famed as an egg appreciator in the Strathcona Horse during the war – in fact was know as “Des Oeuvs” – enough said.  One day in “Flanders” he had just purchased an oval cake of soap in the canteen when he met in indignant and suspicious – highly suspicious farmer.  Flowerdew held the cake of soap so that the farmer roared with rage and accused the soldier of stealing an egg.  The officer Flowerdew was handed over to happened to be his own brother – that brother later won the V.C. in the war and gave his life in winning it.  “Des Oeuvs” perhaps naturally turned his thoughts to poultry farming when he landed in B.C. after the war.  In May 1919 he acquired ten acres of the present Norfolk Poultry Farm at Coghlan – it comprises twenty acres now.  They, he and his wife, started with 400 day old chicks.  Three weeks later Eric went, perforce, to hospital and Mrs Flowerdew had a hectic time with the chicks.  Now the Flowerdew flock comprises 1400 breeders and 600 pullets; there are 400 on R.O.P. and another 500 trapnester.

Then there are a bunch of hefty cockerels – he alternates his males during the breeding season.  His first hatch this season came off on February 9. His incubators comprise a Newton Giant of 10,000 capacity, three 540 Jubilees and eight 540 Charters.  His output of chicks will be between 45,000 and 50,000 this season.  He shipped a thousand chicks to Colorado early in March, and sent a thousand chicks to Sumas, Wash., on February 27. He is booked up to the second week in May, was booked up early in March so far ahead – and he turned down more orders for chicks than he hatched at that.  Digest that – the Norfolk Poultry Farm was unable to fill orders for over twenty thousand chicks over its capacity, which reached it before the middle of March.  That shows what a reputation the Flowerdew birds deservedly enjoy and over how wide an area.

Mr Flowerdew thinks beginners well advised to purchase chicks from established and proved breeders.  Poultry breeding and poultry farm egg production are separate phases of a big industry – if a person wants two thousand white leghorns for a commercial poultry farm he can get them practically any day from reputable breeders who specialize in breeding and who have established flocks to breed from by years of efforts.  If such a person starts to raise two thousand white leghorns it means big investment in eggs, in incubator, in brooder, and a lot of risk spread over a protracted time, as such chicks would have to be raised in relays.  Mr Flowerdew meets in part a demand for eight weeks old pullets of his breeding, and he makes money out of the cockerels when he raises his chicks for his own flock.  “To make cockerels, white leghorn cockerels, profitable as broilers they must be well fed – but if they are well fed will bring in quite an appreciable addition to the income.  Two years ago if it had not been form the money our cockerels brought in as broilers it would have been very tough sledding: we sold our cockerels at 26¢ per pound liveweight.”  They always sell their surplus cockerels for a fairly good price. 

The chick ration comprises 600 corn meal, 200 shorts, 50 ground oyster shells, 50 bone meal and 10 table salt.  Chick scratch, equal parts cracked corn, wheat and ground oats.

The high bird in his R.O.P. house, started September 10, was 153 on March 17.

His breeding pens and flock are managed on the system of alternating males every ten days.  He grows all the kale he can for winter green feed, and is extending the cleared and on his acreage all the time.  He grew wheat for chick feed successfully for seasons.  He mixes his own feed, but says commercial feeds are available which can be relied upon.

On the vexed subject of egg marketing Mr Flowerdew spoke his piece with emphasis.  His view is that B.C. poultry men have spent time and money – much time and much money – in improving poultry, size of egg, egg production; but they have spent practically nothing towards solving the all important problem of how and where and on what terms eggs shall be sold.   “Very few poultrymen, no poultryman, would trust a stranger to run his plant, yet all poultrymen leave it to strangers to market eggs – it’s ridiculous.”  Just the same he knows this egg marketing must not be jumped into – it requires careful attention from all poultrymen in his view.

He has shipped to New York, Ontario – sittings of eggs; chicks to many parts of many provinces and states.  A recent mail involved letters to California, Wyoming, New York, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.

He is convinced that co-operation of poultrymen is the real solution of egg marketing problems.

Mr Flowerdew is a member of the R.O.P. Breeders Association of B.C. and the Canadian National Poultry Record Association.  The farm compromises twenty acres of high land, with splendid range.  The pullets average around four pounds when going into the laying houses.  In the 1923-24 Agassiz contest Flowerdew birds were second for production of 214 eggs.  In the 1924-25 contest at Agassiz, the Flowerdew pen was again one of the best for size of egg with 25.95 ounces to the dozen; six birds passed for registration with an average egg production of 215.  In last year’s contest at Agassiz the Flowerdew pen showed improvement due to successive years of selection by winning third place and eight birds were registered, two being lost through ruptured eggs: every bird, including substitutes, laid eggs averaging over 24 ounces to the dozen.  The pen led the contest during the month of February and laid one hundred per cent for eight days.

Mr Flowerdew served with the first Canadian contingent in the war, and later was given a commission in the Imperial artillery.  He joined up from Walachin was with the 31st B.C. Horse and later Strathcona Horse.  His farm is on the Otter road, two miles south of the B.C.E.R. interurban depot of Warwhoop.