Thursday, May 2, 2013

Turkie Cockes, from the 4 books of husbandry, 1586

Mellissevs. I would faine learne the right ordering of their outlandish Birds, called Ginny Cocks, & Turky Cockes.
Chenoboscvs. This kind of Poultry we have not long had amongst us: for before the yeere of our Lorde. 1530. the were not seene with us, nor I beleeve knowne to the olde wryters. Some have supposed them to be a kinde of the Birdes called in the olde times Meleagrides, because of their ble with coames: but these kindes have no coames, but only wattles. Others againe reckon them for a kind of Peacockes, because they doe in freading time after the same sort, spread and set up their tailes, bragging and vanting them selves: ho wheit they neither resemble these in all points. But because this kind of foule, both for their rarenesse, and also the greatness of their body, is at this daie kept in great flockes, it shall not be much amisse to speake of the: for in daintinesse and goodnesse of meat, the Hennes may compare with either the goose, or the Pehen, and the Cocke farre excell them. The colour of their feathers is for the most parte white, blacke, or pied white and blacke, some blewe and blacke, Their feete are like unto the Peacocks, their tails short, but spread, and borne up after the Peacocked guise, specially when they tread. The heads and the necks of them, are naked without feathers, covered with a wrinckled skinne, in maner of a Cowle, or a Hoode, which hanging over their billes, they draw uppe, or let fall at their pleasures. The Cocke hath the greater wattles under his chinne, and on his breast a tuffe of haire. The colour of that wrinckled skinne about his heade (which hangeth over his bil, and about his neck, all swelling as it were with little blathers) hee changeth from time to time like the Chamalion, to al colours of the Rainbow, sometimes white, sometimes redde, sometimes blewe, sometimes yellow, which colours ever altering, the bird appeereth as it were a myracle of Nature.

The dieting and keeping of them, is almost al one with the Peacocke, saving that this bird ran woorse away with colde, and wet. It is a birde woonderfully given to breeding, every Cocke must as the Peacocke, have foure or five Hennes with him: they are more forward in breeding then the Peacocke, beginning either the first yeere, or at the farthest at two yeere olde: they begin to lay in March, or soner. In hotte countries they lay greate numbers of Egges, if they be continually taken from them, and set under henns, and if so be you take them not away, the begin to sit at the first: for they be of all others most given to sitting, and so much, that if you take away all thier Egges, they will sitte upon a stone, or many times the bare nest. You must therefore restaine them of the device, either by thrusting a fether through their nose (as I before told you) or by wetting their bellies with cold water. You must sette under their Eggs (as I taught you before) in the Peacock: for they have both one time of batching. The keeper must marke the one side of the Egges, and alwaies tourne them, sprinkling them now and then gently with faire water, and take heede the Cocke come not at them, for he will breake them as well as the Peacock: for the Cocke of the kinde, is a frowarde and mischievous Bird. The Chickens being hatched under a Henne, may be kept with the Hennes Chickins, or els verie well alone with the Henne, growing aster a great deale then the Peachicke. You shall feede them in a like sort as you doe the Peacocke, or other Poultry: for they wil eate anything, and delight in Grasse, Weedes, Graveil, and Sande. And because they cannot away with colde, nor wette, you must keep them in Winter, in the warmest and driest places you have. The Pearches whereon they use to sit, must bee hie, but an eight or tenne foot from the ground, neither be they able to flee any great height, and therefore must bee holpen with Lathers, or steppes.

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