Feathered World Year Book 1932
Charlie Peck, Surrey. 2011
From an article by Francis J Hemelryk
What ? You have never heard of Marsh Daisies ? Well ! Well ! At the same time I can quite understand it a s our “Daisy” breeders are not what I might call the “shrieking sisterhood” variety, offering the latest Dutch or American Brown Egg wonder, complete with Exhibition and Utility Standards etc. etc.
In the first place our breed is British through and through and comes from Marsh Side, near Ormskirk, Lancashire. There they became famous among a lot of dour if uneloquent countrymen as the “Bird that will thrive in a swamp”. That is literally true, as ten years’ acquaintance with Sussex mud has taught me.
For some obscure reason they are classed as a heavy breed by the Poultry Club, on the same principle I suppose as when trying to obtain a job in the army as an interpreter I was detailed to the Royal Engineers and told to build railway bridges etc. They are in facta light breed, although of “Game” extraction and they are non sitters, i.e. are not prone to broodiness.
Most of our breeders are people who keep Marsh Daisies for their utility qualities and consequently it is practically impossible to wax eloquent over the various show winners simply because, when asked to show, one receives the invariable reply, “Oh, my dear chap, I really haven’t a bird fit to show against yours” and so forth and so on. Like me they all loathe shows. They certainly are not sprinters at the tests either but they are bigger stayers than any of our domestic poultry except ducks.
Now the tendency this year with the hens is to grow them too large. Mr White’s Brown pullet at the Palace this year had all the makings of a beauty, a head and comb worth going miles to see with a “blood” look all over her. If I might prophesy her laying career it should be 190-215-200-185 and 170 for her first five years.
What, do you mean to tell me you keep your birds for five years, says my foreign enquirer ?
Why, yes, certainly as often birds lay better in their second and third years than as pullets. My trap nest records show me that and I have some birds at Wisborough Green seven years of age and still pulling their weight. One bird I have in mind, ringed no.37, is now that age and her first three years trap nest figures were 193-232-210.
They do lay well in the winter months, as the West Sussex Laying Test figures show. They were the highest scoring pens in January and February and this is largely due to the high number of ‘special eggs’ laid. At the National Test one year a pen of Wheaten Marsh Daisies went through the whole test without laying a second grade egg and the following year the breed won a silver medal with Buffs. It is not much to boast about but as I have repeatedly stated, they are never likely to do wonders there and so few people have the patience to try out our claim that as stayers for three to four years they are unexcelled. Most poultrymen scrap their birds after two years and strains are bred accordingly, to my mind a most uneconomic method.
Culling is a most important thing with Marsh Daisies which, like all “Game” breeds, have a tendency to “sport”.
The head and eyes are always the best guide to a good layer and it hardly necessary to elaborate the point. To sum up, my advice to breeders is to keep your males to about 6lbs. and your pullets about 4lbs. but never over 5lbs.
The Standard of course remains unaltered and the Marsh Daisy Club will never agree to a Dutch standard of excellence, Exhibition and Utility. These usually spell disaster in one direction or another.