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Feeds And Feeding

( Originally Published 1915 )



Mathematics and Business Ability.—The successful farmer surpasses the unsuccessful very largely because he has more business ability, and business ability in the new agriculture is to be increasingly a matter of mathematics. Probably the most important discovery ever made by the human mind was when, peering into nature, it found order there, and that order is what we call the multiplication table. But what does this priceless heritage profit us unless the developing mind is brought into contact with it, and held in contact with it, until the mind works with ease and precision ? " No one," says Hazlitt, " is idle who can do anything. It is conscious inability, or the sense of repeated failure, that prevents us from undertaking, or deters us from the prosecution of any work."

The Feeding Tables are the Mathematicians' Most Valuable, Recent Gifts.—Among the most valuable gifts which the mathematicians have given to the world in recent years are the feed tables by which one may determine with almost mathematical accuracy just what an animal should have in order to enable it to perform its functions most satisfactorily. And yet again, what does this inheritance amount to unless the mind is brought into contact, and held in contact, with the feed tables until it becomes a pleasure to work problems with them? But we must not forget that the foundation for pleasure and profit in using the feed tables comes from a mastery of the fundamental processes. When our teachers become conscious of this growing importance of mathematics,, and when from their study of agriculture they become conscious of the innumerable applications of mathematics to be found in the new agriculture, they will teach their work in arithmetic and other branches of mathematics with renewed enthusiasm and will impart some of their enthusiasm for mathematics to the coming generation. If the introduction of agriculture into the public schools does not help the teaching of the common branches, especially arithmetic, then something is wrong with the agriculture.

I am not alone of the opinion that the time has come when we must have a new arithmetic to accompany the new agriculture. Professor Bailey says : " The student usually receives no training farmward until he enters college. At that time his sympathies are likely to be set toward other enterprises. The common schools have not trained countryward. So far as they train for college it is mostly in the direction of arts and sciences or letters. If the youth is to be trained countryward, the training should be begun before he is sent to college. These remarks are well illustrated even in arithmetic, which presents chiefly store-keeping, middlemen, partnership, and theoretical problems ; and yet there are hundreds of indigenous farm problems, the figuring of which in the public schools would revolutionize agriculture."

Feeding is Winter Work.—During the winter months, farmers are engaged much of their time in feeding, and in order to be most successful they must know with mathematical certainty what they are getting for their feed. How many pounds of corn does it take to make a pound of hog or beef ? What does it cost to keep a horse or colt during the winter ? What relative weights of the different feeds should be mixed for the different animals? What does it cost per day to feed a dairy cow ? What feed mixture comes nearest insuring a maximum milk flow? What cases in arithmetic are used in solving these problems ? These and similar questions are the ones that farm children should be asked during the winter months, and they should be taught how to find with ease and pleasure answers to each and every similar question.

Feed Tables More Important than Interest Tables.—Pupils who can work problems in percentage can work problems with the feed tables. But as stated above, in order to work such problems with pleasure during the stormy winter days and evenings, the farmer must have had his mind brought into contact with such problems, and must have had his mind held there until it works with ease and precision. This will give interest and enthusiasm which come from early formed habits. Before the growing gap between the school and the home is closed, teachers must learn that there is more danger of a man's being cheated by nature than by his merchant or banker. Before the arithmetic necessary for the new agriculture can be introduced into our schools, we shall have to impress parents with the fact that a man can buy for twenty-five cents a little book that will do one's figuring with the coal man, the grain buyer, the interest reckoner, and the creamery, but there is no book that can do our reckoning with Nature. Then, too, the law compels the banker or merchant to rectify his mistake, but Nature never rectifies a mistake. Nature is absolutely just, but she often charges a farmer one of the best of his horses, cows, hogs or a member of his sheep or poultry flock for a single error in feeding. Nature more often charges a man his profits for months for a continued series of errors in feeding, and the most pathetic part of it all is that the unsuccessful farmer is ignorant of the symbols or language with which Nature can tell him he is losing. This is so because he was not put into possession of that language when he was a boy.

Begin with Something General and Practical.-While there is, danger of error in the work with the feed tables and the mathematical subjects, yet there are many interesting and valuable things of a general nature which the teacher need have no fear in presenting. While the study of agriculture is so new to the schools, we may begin by using these general subjects for opening exercises or for regular lessons. Girls may need to be cautioned that their happiness may depend, quite as much as the boys', on their having a clear understanding and a keen appreciation of the importance of this knowledge. Domestic animals and man are so much alike that the work in feeding makes the study of physiology easier. In my teaching I have found the girls quite as interested in agriculture as the boys, and I have full confidence in the ability of our lady teachers to handle the subjects. Woman was the first to till the soil, to domesticate the animals, to build them places for protection and to provide for them during storms and winters. Therefore our lady teachers have but to arouse their dormant instincts and latent powers to find this work fully as interesting as do the men.

If we obey the educational principles, which say, " go from the known to the nearest unknown " and " a child remembers most easily when what he is trying to learn is connected with something which he already knows," we will introduce these lessons in agriculture on feeds and feeding by asking the pupils to make a list of the reasons why we need food. They will undoubtedly give the following : (1) to build up the tissues of the body, (2) to give heat, (3) to give energy. It is easy to lead the children to see that the domestic animals need feed for the same reasons, and some animals need feed for a fourth reason—to make special products, as wool, eggs, meat, milk, etc.

Another lesson, or series of lessons, may follow the question : Why do we need a variety of foods ? The answer will not come so readily, but some one will see that it is because our bodies are so complex and hence it takes many different ingredients to build up the various tissues and enable us to make the various secretions for digestion, nourishing the hair, nails, etc. Then it is easy to enable children to understand that the bodies of animals are made up of a number of different chemicals and compounds and nothing but the most varied food can build bone, muscles, nerves, skin, hair, cartilage, and furnish the different fluids and toxic poisons.

Professor Smith says: " Rations must not only furnish the necessary amount of digestible nutrients, but must also be palatable to the animal. This is especially true where rapid gains or large milk flow are desired. Hay should not be over ripe, discolored or mouldy ; grain should not be musty, or ground and placed in heaps where it becomes tainted by decomposed oil. Feed boxes should be free from foulness. A ration becomes less palatable when limited to a few foods. A variety of foods is more appetizing and is therefore always desirable for all classes of animals, which applies to roughages as well as concentrates. The flow of digestive juices is augmented, and digestion made active, through the influence of palatability of food."

Provide Succulent Feed. When we become fully conscious of what all this means, we realize that farm animals, as well as man, need some succulent and some dry feed every day of the year. This has taxed the ingenuity of man, but it is partially solved now by the use of roots or ensilage in the winter and of hay during the summer and in tropical countries. Probably no one thing in connection with feeds has been of greater value to the people of the northern States and periodically dry places than the invention of the silo (Fig. 56). And yet a desire for it and an understanding of its value are found in the consciousness of a very small percentage of our farmers.



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