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Feeding The Dairy Cow

( Originally Published 1915 )

Place of the Dairy Cow in Modern Life.—Probably there is no other farm animal in which boys and girls are so vitally interested as in the dairy cow. Their health, happiness and often life itself depend upon intelligent care of this useful animal. No other food can be produced so economically as milk and butter. But the climate in some States is extreme, tuberculosis is prevalent, and a cow giving all of the fat of her feed into the milk pail is thin and hence easily chilled. Milk is made, however, largely from water and air. Farmers unconscious of this fact are apt to put the cow in what they call a " warm barn," which generally means a stable deficient in pure air, and only too often it means a stable where a cow is compelled to lie in her own filth. Recent investigations have shown that the best insurance against a cow's catching tuberculosis is fresh air without draughts, and the best insurance of human beings against contamination from bovine tuberculosis is cleanliness. In Bulletin 99 of the Bureau of Animal Industry we read : " Milk from tuberculous cows with unaffected udders we believe to be free from infection until it becomes contaminated with feces or some other material that contains tubercle bacilli from outside the cows." Teachers cannot impress upon the minds of their pupils too strongly the fact that plenty of fresh air, a balanced ration and absolute cleanliness are necessary in order to make milk a fit food for human consumption.

Feed for the Dairy Cow.—How much feed, and what proportions are needed for an ordinary diary cow in full milk flow ? In Smith's " Profitable Stock Feeding " we find (page 50) : " Woll, of the Wisconsin station, made an average of the rations fed by fifteen successful dairymen of that State, comparing this with rations fed in Connecticut and New York. His investigations, founded on American feeding experience, lead to the conclusion that a 1000-pound cow in full milk flow requires per day 25.6 pounds of dry matter, containing digestible nutrients as follows : protein, 2.2 pounds ; carbohydrates, 13.3 pounds; and fat, .8 pounds ; nutritive ratio, 1: 6.9."

This gives what is known as the Dairy Standard. Since the amount can only be reached approximately and since one pound of fat is equal to 2 1/4 pounds of carbohydrates, this may be reduced in round numbers to 26 pounds of digestible dry matter, from which come 2 pounds of protein and 14.5 pounds of carbohydrates, which gives us the ratio of 1: 7 as the requirement of each 1000 pounds of a dairy herd per day. This is known as a medium ration. A wide ration contains proportionately more carbohydrates or heat-producing matter. A narrow ration contains proportionately more protein. Medium, wide and narrow rations are terms that the boy and girl will meet frequently in their reading in the agricultural and domes-tic science papers, and hence the teacher should see that they are explained and repeated until thoroughly fixed in memory.

The following is a fairly good ration for each 1000-pound cow in full milk flow. It will serve as a guide to follow reasonably close but to be varied according to prices and materials on hand to feed. Children should try to find how near they approximate this ration in their feeding at home.

Digestible dry matter Protein Carbo Cost

Alfalfa hay, 10 pounds .... 9.36 1.17 4.31 $.09

Ensilage, 30 pounds 7.92 .42 4.71 .09

Linseed meal, 2 pounds .... 1.80 .60 .95 .02

Mixed hay, 10 pounds .. 8.70 .42 3.32 .08

Totals 27.78 2.61 13.29 $.29

Standard 26 2 14

Variation +1.78 +.61 —.71

Human Foods.—This chapter would be incomplete did I not include a page or so on human foods, for after the pupils have mastered the principles necessary to enable them to use the feed tables, we may let the girls figure on how to feed a family while the boys figure on how to feed the farm animals. How to feed the family I must leave for the books on domestic science. There is one subject, however, which belongs to agriculture, and that is, how to produce clean milk. It takes three or four times as much feed to make a pound of nourishment for a human, if the feed be fed for beef, as it does if the feed be fed for milk. Milk is everywhere the most economical food in America to-day. But we are in a peculiar transition period. The public is demanding cleaner milk and the farmers have not learned how to produce clean milk economically. Our schools have failed entirely to turn out pupils who help the farmers to produce clean milk economically.

Milking machines (Fig. 59) are being improved and, for men who can handle machinery to advantage, they may assist us in getting cleaner milk. The clarifier is a machine for taking out the filth from the milk. The separator (Fig. 60) takes out much of the filth at the same time it is separating the fat from the water. But the way the cows are fed has much to do with the production of clean milk. Most of the filth comes from the dust of the barn. If, just before milking, cows are fed ensilage, turnips, or grass containing garlic, the milk is very apt to taste of the ensilage, turnips or garlic. No milk is cleaner and no cows are healthier than those kept out and milked while out on pasture.

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