Radium Laying Mash for Chickens
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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 Gallivans 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.
One 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
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