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Radium Laying Mash for Chickens

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The CompetitionThis is the story of radium laying mash for chickens, invented by Martin Gallivan during the Depression years in southern Alberta. The following is Marie Gallivan's, Martin Gallivan’s daughter, detailed story of its development, written in 1996 and based on her recollections.

This following excerpt from "Chicken Feed," by Mary Gallivan begins as Martin Gallivan, working for his older brother Cornelius at a feed-and-seed store in Calgary, is faced with the financial hardships of the 1930s and the impending birth of his third child. The narrative captures, firsthand, the nuances of life on the Canadian Prairies during the Depression, the process of ad hoc invention and reinforces the old adage that necessity really is the mother of invention.

Chicken Feed
Poultry in EdmontonOne way to keep the wolf at bay was to outsell the competition. The only real competition was a feed store located in the northeast of Calgary, which mostly drew its clients from the small farms and acreages in that area. But, the 1930s were hard years, and only the hardy survived, so clients of both stores were canny enough to keep track of prices and products at both places. They shopped where there was an advantage for themselves, as loyalty in those days was a luxury people could not afford.

One of the ways to attract customers was to have a unique and needed product, one the competition did not have. To this end, the two Gallivan brothers worked toward inventing an improved laying mash, one which would help laying hens to have large and abundant eggs, and many healthy chicks. A formula was worked out, one of the rooms of the store was converted into a mixing room, and production began.

A huge motor-driven auger was made to turn in the centre of a funnel-shaped structure that Dad and Uncle Con built, where large amounts of various types of feeds could be emptied and mixed together. The finely ground mixture was then shoveled into sacks for selling to the public. The first sales met with success, as customers came into the store to tell Dad and my uncle about the wonderful improvements in egg quality and production.

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