These articles on Poultry Housing in the Victorian Era are taken from various books of the time. They range from plans for improvised chicken coops constructed from recycled materials to literal palaces holding the flocks of royalty.
Contrasting American & British Attitudes to Poultry Keeping
It’s interesting to contrast the attitude towards poultry keeping of Victorian Britain and the United States of America. In both countries many of the poorest class kept some nondescript chickens for eggs and table.
Britain: ‘The Artistic Chicken’
In Britain poultry breeding was a hobby of the aristocracy and wealthier classes. The aim was to carry off prizes from shows, not for the monetary reward so much as the status. When Lord so and so’s cockerel won first prize, this was a matter for discussion and envy at dinner parties between his peers.
The breeding programs aimed to improve the breeds but the definition of improvement was to produce birds that met criteria of plumage, conformation and size. Improvements to the utility of the breeds was secondary at best.
America: ‘The Utility Bird’
Across the pond in the USA the attitude was generally the opposite. There were some noted experts who bred to show as in Britain but the published books were about improving utility and efficiency.
By utility I mean the number of eggs laid per bird per annum, time taken to get to table weight, efficiency of food conversion etc. By efficiency, I mean cost of feed and housing and how to maximise profits from poultry.
Poultry Housing in the Victorian Era
Most British books discussed housing poultry in terms of what the wealthy constructed for their breeding program but the American books discussed poultry housing in terms of utility, cost and return on investment.
So some examples of both for you here. The magnificent luxury palaces of the Victorian Poultry Fancy (as the breeders were collectively referred to) and the practical, economical American poultry houses designed for farmers and smallholders.