Seanad Éireann - Volume 18 - 11 July, 1934
Poultry (Diseases) Bill, 1934—Final Stages.
Question—“That the Bill be received for final consideration”—put and agreed to.
Agreed to take the Final Stage now.
Question put: “That the Bill do now pass.”
Miss Browne Miss Browne
Miss Browne: I wish to reply to some statements made by the Minister in  reference to criticisms of mine on the Second Stage of this Bill—I had not an opportunity of doing so since—with regard principally to the Fianna Fáil mixture of oats and barley with maize, and particularly the mixture with barley. For a considerable time, maize could not be bought in the pure state except in small bags which proved too expensive for poultry feeders. They had no alternative but to buy the barley mixture, and since the Second Stage was passed, numbers of people have told me that they were very pleased indeed that some protest was made about this imposition on the unfortunate farmers and farmers' wives and cottiers who have to buy this maize mixture. I do not think that anything I ever said here had a better effect in the country. It has affected a great many people. When this mixture Bill was before us, I said what everybody knew, that barley in any form was poison for any animals, poultry or any others.
Senator Comyn, when he was answering me on the Second Stage, said that I was trying to get in a side hit, or something to that effect, at the tillage scheme. If the amount of this mixture of barley is going to save tillage it is most extraordinary. On any one farm that I know of in my part of the country, ten stall-fed cattle would consume more barley than all the poultry in six townlands around, or six parishes, if you like. Most of the barley grown in Ireland was grown in County Wexford, and before the advent of the Fianna Fáil Government, some 30,000 acres of barley were grown. It was grown for malting and for the fattening of adult animals, such as pigs and cattle. Barley is never used for horses. It is poison for them, and it is bad for poultry, except chickens or turkeys in the last stages of their fattening, when a little may be given. That shows the absurdity of this whole encouragement of tillage. Without the cattle industry, tillage must go down and will go down in spite of all the fantastic efforts of Fianna Fáil to keep it going. I protest against the sniggering and jeering of Ministers in this House. That thing is played out long ago.
 Cathaoirleach: You rose to make a sort of personal explanation, Senator. I do not think you are now protesting against the Bill.
Miss Browne Miss Browne
Miss Browne: I am protesting against the conduct of Ministers in jeering at members of this House when they make very serious statements and I tell them that that thing is played out. I wish to say that the Minister, when he answered me on this Bill, made a false statement. I do not know whether he knows enough to know whether it is true or not, but it is untrue, and I wish to protest against this imposition on the people which does come under this Bill. This mixture and feeding with barley has been the cause of mortality amongst poultry. What is the good of bringing in a Diseases Bill when you have a Government which acts in a manner which makes it impossible for the people, even if there was no disease in the country, to make a success of the poultry industry. I am interested in this question particularly because there are hundreds of poor people depending on it. They are not even farmers but poor cottiers about whom the Labour Party can laugh and do laugh—poor, unfortunate agricultural labourers. I make this protest.
Mr. Comyn Mr. Comyn
Mr. Comyn: I made no reflection whatever on the speech of Senator Miss Browne. So far as I am concerned, I have always treated her speeches very seriously. I admit that she has a certain knowledge of agriculture, but I claim that some members of this House know probably as much about the growing of barley, and the use of barley, as any person in the counties of Wicklow or Wexford. In regard to the feeding of barley to horses, nobody in his senses would give them raw barley on account of the “awns.”
Cathaoirleach: We are concerned with poultry in this Bill.
Mr. Comyn Mr. Comyn
Mr. Comyn: Since the previous meeting of the Seanad I have made numerous enquiries, and I have been informed, as I believe credibly, by practical people and by scientific  people that ground maize by itself is not a suitable food even for chickens. A mixture of maize and barley, suitably ground, is a proper food for chickens. I have seen human beings living mostly on maize. That was at the time they lived on “stirabout.” The maize was not fully ground. I can assure Senator Miss Browne that these people would have been very glad if they could have got a mixture of ground barley and ground maize: It was quite impossible to have it, because barley was dearer than maize in those days, as I believe it is to-day, and as it ought to be, on the ground that it is a better food than maize in every essential. Senator Miss Browne, whether she intends it or not, on all occasions has attempted to cast some sort of reflection on the policy of the present Government, which, I hope, will be the policy of every Government, to foster tillage and agriculture. On every occasion she has tried to do that. People get ideas and they get fixed in their heads, and they think these ideas are the acme of human wisdom. I am afraid that must have happened to Senator Miss Browne. She has certain fixed ideas with regard to grass, and she does not see any good in anything proposed to be done by any Government, except a Cumann na nGaedheal Government.
Miss Browne Miss Browne
Miss Browne: I wish to make a personal explanation. I never said that pure maize was used by anyone, although the Minister misrepresented——
Cathaoirleach: There must be an end to this controversy. I will allow no more discussion.
Mr. Crosbie Mr. Crosbie
Mr. Crosbie: I rather congratulate myself on knowing absolutely nothing about farming operations. Like the doctors when they differ sometimes it happens that the patient dies.
A Senator A Senator
A Senator: The chickens.
Mr. Crosbie Mr. Crosbie
Mr. Crosbie: In this case the chickens. In the South of Ireland we have a school which enjoys European fame, at which experiments have been carried out, and I would like to know,  in order to end this controversy, if the various mixtures for poultry and pigs have been tested in the Cork Dairy School. A report from that institution would carry a lot of weight with people who do not profess to understand farming operations. It is quite possible that the Department has issued some reports from the Cork centre or from Glasnevin. If so, these should be made available to everybody, so that the public could judge for themselves whether Senator Miss Browne or Senator Comyn was correct.
Mr. Johnson Mr. Johnson
Mr. Johnson: I do not think any of the sub-sections or paragraphs in the Bill have anything to do with feeding.
Cathaoirleach: This all arose out of what Senator Miss Browne thought was a personal explanation.
Mr. Jameson Mr. Jameson
Mr. Jameson: When he is replying, the Minister might tell us about the feeding of barley to chickens. Senator Comyn stated that he had made inquiries. I have been making inquiries, and I have had reports from my own friends who keep a good many fowl, and there is no doubt that very definite statements were made to me as to the effect of changing the food and using the mixture containing barley for feeding the chickens. People told me that a number of chickens had died. I am perfectly certain that that happened in other parts of the country, and that the Minister must know something about it. I am supposed to know a little about barley. The barley you are going to get rid of by using it as feeding for chickens, if it is going to harm chickens, should be stopped at once, because the quantity cannot be worth talking about. I am sure the Minister knows 50 times more about this question than Senators, and knows whether the statements that have been made are true or not. I have been told by my people that the mixture of barley meal in the feeding of chickens was bad for them and that they died. If there is any truth in that statement, what is the good of talking about the mixture?
Mr. O'Connor Mr. O'Connor
Mr. O'Connor: I desire to join in this discussion, because I am interested in  every industry that affects farmers. The rearing of poultry and pigs is a prominent feature of farming. I intended to congratulate the Minister for bringing forward such a desirable measure, as large numbers of people who make a living out of farming are interested in fowl rearing, especially small farmers and labourers. I regret that Senator Comyn differs so much with Senator Miss Browne on this subject, as I consider that Senator Miss Browne is the better authority on fowl rearing, and County Clare is not remarkable as a county for its poultry industry. I would be much more pleased if Senator Comyn used his forensic ability in the courts, which he so often adorns, rather than raise this controversy with Senator Miss Browne. As to the feeding value of barley there is an old saying which may be of interest—
Barley bread will do you no good,
Rye bread will do you no harm,
Oaten bread will sweeten your blood,
And wheaten bread will strengthen your arm.
In my opinion, the proper distribution of barley would be to have it used in the industry which Senator Jameson so admirably represents. I think the poultry instructresses and the agricultural instructors are the people to advise on this subject, and it should be left to them. We have very capable instructors and instructresses to deal with them.
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan) Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan)
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan): It is quite true to say that the amount of barley that is incorporated in the mixture in the case of chickens is only a small matter, but it would be impossible to administer this Act if an exception were made in the case of chicken food and if we were to allow pure maize to be sold for chicken food. Something might be said for such an exception if we thought it was necessary to make an exception. Senator Crosbie asked if we had done anything in regard to this matter in the schools. Experiments have been made in feeding chickens on mixtures of home grown grain for many years, not alone since Fianna Fáil came into power, but  at least for six or seven years. These experiments have been going on, and the results have been published in the journals of the Department of Agriculture. Every single experiment that was carried out pointed to home grown grain being superior to maize.
Miss Browne Miss Browne
Miss Browne: The Minister has not said anything about the barley mixture.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: Barley when incorporated in the mixture has been found equal to maize in some percentages and superior in other percentages. Very elaborate experiments have been carried out. As Senator Miss Browne has stated, the discussion which took place in the Seanad on the last occasion on which this Bill was before the House, attracted great public attention. Senator Miss Browne stated that she has had letters congratulating her on the stand she made against barley. I must say that, on the other hand, I have had people, not writing to me, but calling on me, telling me that I was perfectly right in the attitude I took up. Amongst the people with whom I discussed the matter, were some who dealt with this matter in a scientific way in feeding poultry on maize mixed with barley against maize in an uncontrolled way. I take it, therefore, that I have informed opinion on my side in this matter. Of course if there is a prejudice against barley there is no necessity whatever for any poultry keeper to use the barley and maize meal mixture. There is also a maize meal and oats mixture on the market which can be obtained. If we take the proportion in which the two mixtures are turned out, 75 per cent. of the mixture turned out contains oats as against 25 per cent. which contains barley, so that it must be much easier to get the oats mixture than the barley mixture. There can be no complaint, therefore, on that ground.
There are chickens dying of course. That is why we brought in the Bill to deal with certain diseases. I think Senator Miss Browne is, perhaps, wrongfully informed by those who approached her. Chickens may be dying from some of the diseases with which we mean to deal under this Bill, but their owners cannot blame the barley  mixture. Senator Miss Browne's friends of course would be inclined to blame the Government for anything that might occur in that way. When their chickens are dying, they of course are quite prepared to say that is due to the mixture introduced by the Government, and I am quite sure that Senator Miss Browne is only too delighted to swallow any such story as that. When the Bill was before the Seanad on the last day I had not the case properly prepared, because I really did not think that this particular question would be raised on the Bill. I found to my great surprise when I went back to the Department that I could have made a much better case for it, because there were arguments which I could have put forward on the last day that did not occur to me then. For instance, I spoke of eggs being smuggled in although we were told that there was no necessity for this Bill owing to the fall in the price of eggs. I said that eggs had been smuggled in, but what was my surprise on returning to my office to find a report from the officers of the Department that chickens were being imported and were actually paying the tariff of 6d. per lb. That shows you the state of other markets when people can bring in chickens, pay the tariff of 6d. and yet compete in the market here at the price offered.
Miss Browne Miss Browne
Miss Browne: Would the Minister explain what these chickens are meant for? Are they chickens for fattening or chickens for breeding?
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: They are dead chickens. They were brought into this market to compete against chickens raised here by our own farmers. A tariff of 6d. per lb. was paid on these chickens, so that our farmers were to that extent better off than the people who produced these chickens. Researches carried out by the Department of Agriculture and by the different schools and colleges over which the Department has any control, all point to the fact that barley can be used in a maize meal mixture for chickens. There is no doubt whatever felt by the Department's officials or by teachers that oats in a maize meal mixture is quite suitable for chickens. In the mixture of maize and  Oats we have an ideal food for chickens, and the only doubts so far expressed are as to whether there is a sufficient quantity of oats in the mixture. It is quite possible that we may have to mix more oats with the maize. I think there can be no complaint from poultry keepers with regard to the suit ability of the mixture.
Question put and agreed to.
Seanad Éireann 18 Poultry (Diseases) Bill, 1934—Final Stages.