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Culture Of Grasses For Fodder






Category: History and Breeds

As has been already stated, the grasses in summer, and hay in winter,
form the most natural and important food for milch cows; and, whatever
other crops come in as additional, these will form the basis of all
systems of feeding.

The nutritive qualities of the grasses differ widely; and their value as
feed for cows will depend, to a considerable extent, on the management
of pastures and mowing-lands. Some considerations bearing upon the
subject of the proper cultivation of these leading articles of food
are, therefore, proposed in this article.


If the turf of an old pasture is carefully examined, it will be found to
contain a large variety of plants and grasses adapted for forage; some
of them valuable for one purpose, and some for another. Some of them,
though possessing a lower percentage of nutritive constituents than
others, are particularly esteemed for an early and luxuriant growth,
furnishing sweet feed in early spring, before other grasses appear; some
of them, for starting more rapidly than others, after having been eaten
off by cattle, and, consequently, of great value as pasture grasses.
Most grasses will be found to be of a social character, and do best in a
large mixture with other varieties.

In forming a mixture for pasture grasses, the peculiar qualities of each
species should, therefore, be regarded: as the time of flowering, the
habits of growth, the soil and location on which it grows best, and
other characteristics.

Among the grasses found on cultivated lands in this country, the
following are considered as among the most valuable for ordinary farm
cultivation; some of them being adapted to pastures, and others almost
exclusively to mowing and the hay-crop: Timothy, Meadow Foxtail, June or
Kentucky Blue Grass, Fowl Meadow, Rough-stalked Meadow, Orchard Grass,
Perennial Rye Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Redtop, English Bent, Meadow
Fescue, Tall Oat Grass, Sweet-scented Vernal, Hungarian Grass, Red
Clover, White or Dutch Clover, and some others.

Of these, the most valuable, all things considered, is TIMOTHY. It forms
a large proportion of what is commonly called English, or in some
sections meadow, hay, though it originated and was first cultivated in
this country. It contains a large percentage of nutritive matter, in
comparison with other agricultural grasses. It thrives best on moist,
peaty, or loamy soils, of medium tenacity, and is not well suited to
very light, sandy lands. On very moist soils, its root is almost always
fibrous; while on dry and loamy ones it is bulbous. On soils of the
former description, which it especially affects, its growth is rapid,
and its yield of hay large, sometimes amounting to three or four tons
the acre, depending much, of course, upon cultivation. But, though very
valuable for hay, it is not adapted for pasture, as it will neither
endure severe grazing, nor is its aftermath to be compared with that of
meadow foxtail, and some of the other grasses.

JUNE GRASS, better known in some sections as Kentucky Blue Grass, is
very common in most sections of the country, especially on limestone
lands, forming a large part of the turf, wherever it flourishes, and
being held in universal esteem as a pasture grass. It starts early, but
varies much in size and appearance, according to the soil; growing in
some places with the utmost luxuriance, and forming the predominant
grass; in others, yielding to the other species. If cut at the time of
flowering, or a few days after, it makes a good and nutritious hay,
though it is surpassed in nutritive qualities by several of the other
grasses. It starts slowly after having been cut, especially if not cut
very early. But its herbage is fine and uniform, and admirably adapted
to lawns, growing well in almost all soils, though it does not endure
very severe droughts. It withstands, however, the frosts of winter
better than most other grasses.

In Kentucky--a section where it attains its highest perfection and
luxuriance, ripening its seeds about the tenth of June--and in latitudes
south of that, it sometimes continues green through the mild winters. It
requires three or four years to become well set, after sowing, and it
does not attain its highest yield as a pasture grass till the sod is
even older than that. It is not, therefore, suited to alternate
husbandry, where land usually remains in grass but two or three years
before being ploughed up. In Kentucky, it is sown any time in winter
when the sun is on the ground, three or four quarts of seed being used
to the acre. In spring the seeds germinate, when the sprouts are
exceedingly fine and delicate. Stock is not allowed on it the first
year.

The MEADOW FOXTAIL is also an excellent pasture grass It somewhat
resembles Timothy, but is earlier, has a softer spike, and thrives on
all soils except the dryest. Its growth is rapid, and it is greatly
relished by stock of all kinds. Its stalks and leaves are too few and
light for a field crop, and it shrinks too much in curing to be valuable
for hay. It flourishes best in a rich, moist, and rather strong soil,
sending up a luxuriant aftermath when cut or grazed off, which is much
more valuable, both in quality and nutritive value, than the first crop.
In all lands designed for permanent pasture, therefore, it should form a
considerable part of a mixture. It will endure almost any amount of
forcing, by liquid manures or irrigation. It requires three or four
years, after soiling, to gain a firm footing in the soil. The seed is
covered with the soft and woolly husks of the flower, and is
consequently light; weighing but five pounds to the bushel, and
containing seventy-six thousand seeds to the ounce.

The ORCHARD GRASS, or ROUGH COCKSFOOT, for pastures, stands pre-eminent.
This is a native of this country, and was introduced into England, from
Virginia, in 1764, since which time its cultivation has extended into
every country of Europe, where it is universally held in very high
estimation. The fact of its being very palatable to stock of all kinds,
its rapid growth, and the luxuriance of its aftermath, with its power of
enduring the cropping of cattle, have given it a very high reputation,
especially as a pasture grass. It blossoms earlier than Timothy; when
green, is equally relished by milch cows; requires to be fed closer, to
prevent its forming tufts and growing up to seed, when it becomes hard
and wiry, and loses much of its nutritive quality. As it blossoms about
the same time, it forms an admirable mixture with red clover, either for
permanent pasture or mowing. It resists drought, and is less exhausting
to the soil than either rye grass or Timothy. The seed weighs twelve
pounds to the bushel, and when sown alone requires about two bushels to
the acre.

The ROUGH-STALKED MEADOW GRASS is somewhat less common than the June
grass, but is considered equally valuable. It grows best on moist,
sheltered meadows, where it flowers in June and July. It is readily
distinguished from June grass by its having a rough sheath, while the
latter has a smooth one, and by having a fibrous root, while the root of
the other is creeping. It possesses very considerable nutritive
qualities, and comes to perfection at a desirable time, and is
exceedingly relished by cattle, horses and sheep. For suitable soils it
should form a portion of a mixture of seeds, producing, in mixture with
other grasses which serve to shelter it, a large yield of hay, far above
the average of grass usually sown on a similar soil. It should be cut
when the seed is formed. Seven pounds of seed to the acre will make a
good sward. The grass loses about seventy per cent. of its weight in
drying. The nutritive qualities of its aftermath exceed very
considerably those of the crop cut in the flower or in the seed.

FOWL MEADOW GRASS is another indigenous species, of great value for low
and marshy grounds, where it flourishes best; and, if cut and properly
cured, makes a sweet and nutritious hay, which, from its fineness, is
eaten by cows without waste. According to Sinclair--who experimented,
with the aid of Sir Humphrey Davy, to ascertain its comparative
nutritive properties--it is superior in this respect to either meadow
foxtail, orchard grass, or tall meadow oat grass; but it is probable
that he somewhat overrates it. If allowed to stand till nearly ripe, it
falls down, but sends up innumerable flowering stems from the joints, so
that it continues green and luxuriant till late in the season. It
thrives best in mixture with other grasses, and deserves a prominent
place in all mixtures for rich, moist pastures, and low mowing-lands.

RYE GRASS has a far higher reputation abroad than in this country, and
probably with reason; for it is better adapted to a wet and uncertain
climate than to a dry and hot one. It varies exceedingly, depending much
on soil and culture; but, when cut in the blossom to make into hay, it
possesses very considerable nutritive power. If allowed to get too ripe,
it is hard and wiry, and not relished by cows. The change from a juicy
and nutritious plant to a woody fibre, containing but little soluble
matter, is very rapid. Properly managed, however, it is a tolerably good
grass, though not to be compared to Timothy, or orchard grass.

REDTOP is a grass familiar to every farmer in the country. It is the
Herd's grass of Pennsylvania, while in New York and New England it is
known by a great variety of names and assumes a great variety of forms,
according to the soil in which it grows. It is well adapted to almost
every soil, though it seems to prefer a moist loam. It makes a
profitable crop for spending, in the form of hay, though its yield is
less than that of Timothy. It is well suited to our permanent pastures,
where it should be fed close, otherwise it becomes wiry and
innutritious, and cattle refuse it. It stands the climate of the country
as well as any other grass, and so forms a valuable part of any mixture
for pastures and permanent mowing-lands; but it is, probably, rather
over rated by us.

ENGLISH BENT, known also by a number of other names, is largely
cultivated in some sections. It closely resembles redtop, but may be
distinguished from it by the roughness of the sheaths when the hand is
drawn from above downward. It possesses about the same qualities as
redtop.

MEADOW FESCUE is one of the most common of the fescue grasses, and is
said to be the Randall grass of Virginia. It is an excellent pasture
grass, forming a very considerable portion of the turf of old pasture
lands and fields; and is more extensively propagated and diffused from
the fact that it ripens its seeds before most other grasses are cut, and
sheds them to spring up and cover the ground. Its long and tender leaves
are much relished by cattle. It is rarely sown in this country,
notwithstanding its great and acknowledged value as a pasture grass. If
sown at all, it should be in mixture with other grasses, as orchard
grass, and rye grass, or June grass. It is of much greater value at the
time of flowering than when the seed is ripe.



THE TALL OAT GRASS is the Ray grass of France. It furnishes a luxuriant
supply of foliage, is valuable either for hay or for pasture, and has
been especially recommended for soiling purposes, on account of its
early and luxuriant growth. It is often found on the borders of fields
and hedges, woods and pastures, and is sometimes very plenty in
mowing-lands. After having been mown it shoots up a very thick
aftermath, and, on this account, partly, is regarded of nearly equal
excellence with the common foxtail.

It grows spontaneously on deep, sandy soils, when once naturalized. It
has been cultivated to a considerable extent in this country, and is
esteemed by those who know it mainly for its early, rapid, and late
growth, making it very well calculated as a permanent pasture grass. It
will succeed on tenacious clover soil.

The SWEET-SCENTED VERNAL GRASS is one of the earliest in spring and one
of the latest in autumn; and this habit of growth is one of its chief
excellencies, as it is neither a nutritious grass, nor very palatable to
stock of any kind, nor does it yield a very good crop. It is very common
in New England and all over the Middle States, coming into old worn-out
fields and moist pastures spontaneously, and along every roadside. It
derives its name from its sweetness of odor when partially wilted or
crushed in the hand, and it is this chiefly which gives the delicious
fragrance to all new-mown bay. It is almost the only grass that
possesses a strongly-marked aromatic odor, which is imparted to other
grasses with which it is cured. Its seed weighs eight pounds to the
bushel. In mixtures for permanent pastures it may be of some value.

HUNGARIAN GRASS, or millet, is an annual forage plant, introduced into
France in 1815, and more recently into this country. It germinates
readily, and withstands the drought remarkably, remaining green when
other grasses are parched and dried up. It has numerous succulent
leaves which furnish an abundance of sweet fodder, greatly relished by
stock of all kinds. It attains its greatest luxuriance on soils of
medium consistency and richness, but does very well on light and dry
plains.

RED CLOVER is an artificial grass of the leguminous family, and one of
the most valuable cultivated plants for feeding to dairy cows. It
flourishes best on tenacious soils and stiff loams. Its growth is rapid,
and a few months after sowing are sufficient to supply an abundant sweet
and nutritious food. In the climate of New England, clover should be
sown in the spring of the year, while most of the natural grasses do far
better when sown in the fall. It is often sown with perfect success on
the late snows of March or April, and soon finds its way down into the
soil and takes a vigorous hold with its root. It is valuable not only as
a forage plant, but as shading the ground, and thereby increasing its
fertility.

The introduction of clover among the cultivated plants of the farm has
done more, perhaps, for modern agriculture than that of any other single
plant. It is now considered indispensable in all good dairy districts.

WHITE CLOVER, often called Honeysuckle, is also widely diffused over
this country, to which it is undoubtedly indigenous. As a mixture in all
pasture grasses it holds a very high rank, as it is exceedingly sweet
and nutritious, and relished by all kinds of stock. It grows most
luxuriantly in moist grounds and moist seasons, but easily accommodates
itself to a great variety of circumstances.

With respect to the mixtures of grass-seeds most profitable for the
dairy farmer, no universal rule can be given, as they depend very much
upon the nature of the soil and the locality. The most important point
to be observed, and the one as to which, probably, the greatest
deficiency exists, is to use a large number of species, with smaller
quantities of each than those most commonly used. This is Nature's rule;
for, in examining the turf of a rich old pasture, a large number of
different species will be found growing together, while, if the turf of
a field sown without two or three species is examined, a far less number
of plants is found to the square foot, even after the sod is fairly set.
In the opinion of the most competent judges, no improvement in grass
culture is more important than this.

As an instance of what he would consider an improvement on the ordinary
mixtures for permanent pastures, Mr. Flint, in his "Milch Cows and
Dairy Farming," suggests the following as likely to give satisfactory
results, dependent, of course, to a considerable extent, on the nature
and preparation of the soil:

Meadow Foxtail, flowering in May and June, 2 pounds
Orchard Grass, " " " " 6 "
Sweet-scented Vernal, " " April and May, 1 "
Meadow Fescue, " " May and June, 2 "
Redtop, " " June and July, 2 "
June Grass, " " May and June, 4 "
Italian Rye Grass, " " June, 4 "
Perennial do., " " " " 6 "
Timothy, " " June and July, 3 "
Rough-stalked Meadow Grass, " " 2 "
Perennial Clover, flowering in June, 3 "
White Clover, " " May to September 5-40 "

For mowing-lands the mixture would, of course, be somewhat changed. The
meadow foxtail and sweet-scented vernal would be left out entirely, and
some six or eight pounds added to the Timothy and red clover. The proper
time to lay down lands to grass in the latitude of New England is August
or September, and no grain crop should be sown with the seed.

Stiff or clayey pastures should never be overstocked, but when fed
pretty close the grasses are far sweeter and more nutritious than when
they are allowed to grow up rank and coarse; and if, by a want of
sufficient feeding, they get the start of the stock, and grow into rank
tufts, they should be cut and removed, when a fresh grass will start up,
similar to the aftermath of mowing-lands, which will be eaten with
avidity. Grasses for curing into hay should be cut either at the time of
flowering, or just before, especially if designed for milch cows. They
are then more succulent and juicy, and, if properly cured, form the
sweetest food.

Grass cut in the blossom will make more milk than if allowed to stand
later. Cut a little before the blossoming; it will make more than when
in blossom, and the cows prefer it, which is by no means an unimportant
consideration, since their tastes should always be consulted. Grass cut
somewhat green, and properly cured, is next to fresh, green grass in
palatable, nutritive qualities. Every farmer knows the milk-producing
properties of rowen, or second crop, which is generally cut before it
ripens.

No operation on the farm is of greater importance to the dairyman than
the cutting of his grass and the manner of curing hay; and in this
respect the practice over the country generally is susceptible of very
marked improvement. The chief object is to preserve the sweetness and
succulence of the grass in its natural state, so far as possible; and
this object cannot be attained by exposing it too long to the scorching
suns and drenching rains to which our climate is liable. As a general
thing, farmers try to make their hay too much.

As to the best modes of curing clover, the following, among others, is
adopted by many successful farmers: What is mown in the morning is left
in the swath, to be turned over early in the afternoon. At about four
o'clock, or while it is still warm, it is put into small cocks with a
fork, and, if the weather is favorable, it may be housed on the fourth
or fifth day, the cocks being turned over on the morning of the day in
which it is to be carted. By this method all the heads and leaves are
saved, and these are more valuable than the stems. For new milch cows in
winter scarcely any food is better. It will cause them to give as great
a flow of milk as any hay, unless it be good rowen.

INDIAN CORN makes an exceedingly valuable fodder, both as a means of
carrying a herd of milch cows through our severe droughts of summer, and
as an article for soiling cows kept in the stall. No dairy farmer will
neglect to sow an extent in proportion to the number of cows which he
keeps. The most common practice is, to sow in drills from two and a half
to three feet apart, on land well tilled and thoroughly manured, making
the drills from six to ten inches wide with the plough, manuring in the
furrow, dropping the kernels about two inches apart, and covering with
the hoe. In this mode of culture, the cultivator may be used between
the rows when the corn is from six to twelve inches high, and, unless
the ground is very weedy, no other after culture is needed. The first
sowing usually takes place about the middle of May, and this is
succeeded by other sowings, at intervals of a week or ten days, till
July, in order to have a succession of green fodder; but, if it is
designed to cut it up to cure for winter use, an early sowing is
generally preferred, in order to be able to cure it in warm weather, in
August or early in September. Sown in this way, about three or four
bushels of corn are required for an acre; since, if sown thickly, the
fodder is better, the stalks smaller, and the waste less.

The chief difficulty in curing corn cultivated for this purpose, and
after the methods just spoken of, arises from the fact that it comes at
a season when the weather is often colder, the days shorter, and the
dews heavier, than when the curing of hay takes place. Nor is the curing
of corn cut up green so easy and simple as that of the drying of stalks
of Indian corn cut above the ear, as in the common practice of topping.
The plant is then riper, less juicy, and cures more readily.

The method sometimes adopted is to cut and tie into small bundles, after
it is somewhat wilted, and then to stook upon the ground, where it is
allowed to stand, subject to all the changes of weather, with only the
protection of the stook itself. The stooks consist of bunches of stalks
first bound into small bundles, and are made sufficiently large to
prevent the wind from blowing them over. The arms are thrown around the
tops to bring them as closely together as possible, when the tops are
broken over or twisted together, or otherwise fastened, in order to
make the stook "shed the rain" as well as possible. In this condition
they remain out until they are sufficiently dried to be put in the barn.
Corn fodder is very excellent for young dairy stock.

COMMON MILLET is another very valuable crop for fodder in soiling, or to
cure for winter use, but especially to feed out during the usual season
of drought. Many varieties of millet are cultivated in this country, the
ground being prepared and treated as for oats. If designed to cut for
green fodder, half a bushel of seed to the acre should be used; if to
ripen seed, twelve quarts, sown broadcast, about the last of May or
early in June. A moist loam or muck is the best soil adapted to millet;
but very great crops have been grown on dry upland. It is very palatable
and nutritious for milch cows, both green and when properly cured. The
curing should be very much like that of clover, care being taken not to
over-dry it. For fodder, either green or cured, it is cut before
ripening. In this state all cattle eat it as readily as green corn, and
a less extent will feed them. Millet is worthy of a widely-extended
cultivation, particularly on dairy farms. Indian millet is another
cultivated variety.

RYE, as a fodder plant, is chiefly valuable for its early growth in
spring. It is usually sown in September or October--from the middle to
the end of September being, perhaps, the most desirable time--on land
previously cultivated and in good condition. If designed to ripen only,
a bushel of seed is required to the acre, evenly sown; but, if intended
for early fodder in spring, two or two and a half bushels of seed per
acre should be used. On warm land the rye can be cut green the last of
April or the first of May. Care should be taken to cut early; since, if
it is allowed to advance too far towards maturity, the stalk becomes
hard and unpalatable to cows.

OATS are also sometimes used for soiling, or for feeding green, to eke
out a scanty supply of pasture feed; and for this purpose they are
valuable. They should be sown on well-tilled and well-manured land,
about four bushels to the acre, towards the last of April or the first
of May. If the whole crop is to be used as green fodder, five bushels of
seed will not be too much for good, strong soil. They will be
sufficiently grown to cut by the first of July, or in some sections
earlier, depending upon the location.

The CHINESE SUGAR-CANE also may deserve attention as a fodder plant.
Experiments thus far made would seem to show that when properly
cultivated, and cut at the right time, it is a palatable and nutritious
plant, while many of the failures have been the result of too early
cutting. For a fodder crop the drill culture is preferable, both on
account of the larger yield obtained and because it is thus prevented
from becoming too hard and stalky.

Of the root crops the POTATO is the first to be mentioned. This produces
a large quantity of milk, though the quality is inferior. The market
value of this root is, at times, too great to allow of feeding
extensively with it, even in milk dairies, where it is most valuable as
a food for cows; still, there are locations where it may be judicious to
cultivate this root for dairy feed, and in all circumstances there is a
certain portion of the crop of unmarketable size, which will be of value
fed to milch cows or swine. It should be planted in April or May, but in
many sections in June, on good mellow soil, first thoroughly plowed and
harrowed, then furrowed three feet apart, and manured in the furrows
with a mixture of ashes, plaster of Paris, and salt. The seed may be
dropped in the furrows, one foot apart, after the drill system--or in
hills, two and a half or three feet apart--to be covered with the plough
by simply turning the furrows back, after which the whole should be
rolled with the field-roller, when it can be done.

If the land is not already in good heart from continued cultivation, a
few loads of barnyard manure may be spread, and plowed under, by the
first plowing. Used in this way it is far less liable to cause the rot,
than when it is put in the hill. If a sufficient quantity of wood-ashes
is not at hand, sifted coal-ashes will answer the purpose, and these are
said to be valuable as a preventive of rot. In this way, one man, two
boys, and a horse can plant from three to four acres a day on mellow
land.

By another method two acres a day on the sod have been planted. The
manure is first spread upon the grass, and then a furrow made by a yoke
of oxen and one man, another following after and dropping, a foot apart,
along the outer edge of the furrow on the grass. By quick work, one hand
can nearly keep up with the plow in dropping. When arrived at the end of
the piece, a back furrow is turned up to the potatoes, and a good
plowman will cover nearly all without difficulty. On the return furrow,
the man or boy who dropped follows after, covering up any that may be
left or displaced, and smoothing off the top of the back-furrows when
necessary. Potatoes thus planted have come out finely.

The cost of cultivation in this mode, it must be evident, is but
trifling, compared with the slower method of hand-planting. It requires
a skillful ploughman, a quick, active lad, and a good yoke of oxen, and
the extent of the work will depend somewhat upon the state of the turf.
The nutritive equivalent for potatoes in a hundred pounds of good hay is
319 pounds; that is, it will take 3.19 pounds of potatoes to afford the
same amount of nourishment as one pound of hay. The great value of roots
is as a change or condiment calculated to keep the animal in a healthy
condition.



The CARROT is somewhat extensively fed, and is a valuable root for milch
cows. This, like the potato, has been cultivated and improved from a
wild plant. Carrots require a deep, warm, mellow soil, thoroughly
cultivated, but clean, and free from weed-seed. The difference between a
very good profit and a loss on the crop depends much upon the use of
land and manures perfectly free from foul seeds of any kind. Ashes,
guano, seaweed, ground bones, and other similar substances, or
thoroughly-rotted and fermented compost, will answer the purpose.

After plowing deep, and harrowing carefully, the seed should be planted
with a seed-sower, in drills about eighteen inches apart, at the rate of
four pounds to the acre, about the middle of May. The difference
between sowing on the fifteenth of May and on the tenth of June in New
England is said to be nearly one-third in the crop on an average of
years. In weeding, a little wheel hoe is invaluable, as with it a large
part of the labor of cultivation is saved. A skillful hand can run this
hoe within a half an inch of the young plants without injury, and go
over a large space in the course of a day, if the land was properly
prepared in the first place.

The American farmer should always plan to economize labor, which is the
great item of expense upon a farm. By this is not meant that he should
strive to shirk or avoid work, but that he should make the least amount
of work accomplish the greatest and most profitable results.
Labor-saving machinery on the farm is applied, not to reduce the number
of hours of labor, or to make the owner a man of leisure--who is,
generally, the unhappiest man in the world--but to enable him to
accomplish the greatest results in the same time that he would be
compelled to obtain smaller ones.

Carrots will continue to grow and increase in size late into the fall.
When ready to dig, plow around as near to the outside rows as possible,
turning away the furrow from the row. Then take out the carrots, pulling
off the tops, and throw the carrots and tops into separate heaps on the
plowed furrows. In this way a man and two boys can harvest and put into
the cellar upwards of a hundred bushels a day.

The TURNIP, and the Swedish turnip, or ruta baga, are also largely
cultivated as a field crop to feed to stock; and for this purpose almost
numberless varieties are used, furnishing a great amount of succulent
and nutritious food, late into winter, and, if well-kept, late into
spring. The chief objection to the turnip is, that it taints the milk.
This may be remedied--to a considerable extent, if not wholly--by the
use of salt, or salt hay, and by feeding at the time of milking, or
immediately after, or by steaming before feeding, or putting a small
quantity of the solution of nitre into the pail, and milking upon it.

Turnips may be sown any time in June, in rich land, well mellowed by
cultivation. Very large crops are obtained, sown as late as the middle
of July, or the first of August, on an inverted sod. The Michigan, or
double-mould-board plow leaves the land light, and in admirable
condition to harrow, and drill in turnips. In one instance, a successful
root-grower cut two tons of hay to the acre, on the twenty-third of
June, and after it was removed from the land spread eight cords of
rotten kelp to the acre, and plowed in; after which about three cords of
fine old compost manure were used to the acre, which was sown with ruta
baga seed, in drills, three feet apart, plants thinned to eight or ten
inches in the drill. No after cultivation was required. On the fifteenth
of November he harvested three hundred and seventy bushels of splendid
roots to the acre, carefully measured off.

The nutritive equivalent of Swedish turnips as compared with good meadow
hay is 676, taking hay as a standard at 100; that is, it would require
6.76 pounds of turnips to furnish the same nutriment as one pound of
good hay; but fed in connection with other food--as hay, for
example--perhaps five pounds of turnips would be about equal to one
pound of hay.

The English or round turnip is usually sown broadcast after some other
crop, and large and valuable returns are often obtained. The Swede is
sown in drills. Both of these varieties are used for the production of
milk.

The chief objection to the turnip crop is that it leaves many kinds of
soil unfit for a succession of some other crops, like Indian corn, for
instance. In some sections, no amount of manuring appears to make corn
do well after turnips or ruta bagas.

The MANGOLD WURTZEL, a variety of the common beet, is often cultivated
in this country with great success, and fed to cows with advantage,
furnishing a succulent and nutritive food in winter and spring. The crop
is somewhat uncertain. When it does well, an enormous yield is often
obtained; but, not rarely, it proves a failure, and is not, on the
whole, quite as reliable as the ruta baga, though a more valuable crop
when the yield is good. It is cultivated like the common beet in moist,
rich soils; three pounds of seed to the acre The leaves may be stripped
off, towards fall, and fed out, without injury to the growth of the
root. Both mangolds and turnips should be cut with a root-cutter, before
being fed out.

The PARSNIP is a very sweet and nutritious article of fodder, and adds
richness and flavor to the milk. It is worthy of extended culture in all
parts of the country where dairy husbandry is pursued. It is a biennial,
easily raised on deep, rich, well-cultivated and well-manured soils,
often yielding enormous crops, and possessing the decided advantage of
withstanding the severest winters. As an article of spring feeding,
therefore, it is exceedingly valuable. Sown in April or May, it attains
a large growth before winter. Then, if desirable, a part of the crop may
be harvested for winter use, and the remainder left in the ground till
the frost is out, in March or April, when they can be dug as wanted, and
are exceedingly relished by milch cows and stock of all kinds. They make
an admirable feed at the time of milking, and produce the richest cream,
and the yellowest and finest-flavored butter, of any roots used among
us. The best dairy farmers on the Island of Jersey often feed to their
cows from thirty to thirty-five pounds of parsnips a day, in addition to
hay or grass.

Both practical experiment and scientific analysis prove this root to be
eminently adapted to dairy stock, where the richness of milk or
fine-flavored butter is any object. For mere milk-dairies, it is not
quite so valuable, probably, as the Swedish turnip. The culture is
similar to that of carrots, a rich, mellow, and deep loam being best;
while it has a great advantage over the carrot in being more hardy, and
rather less liable to injury from insects, and more nutritive. For
feeding and fattening stock it is eminently adapted.

To be sure of a crop, fresh seed must be had, as it cannot be depended
on for more than one year. For this reason the largest and straightest
roots should be allowed to stand for seed, which, as soon as nearly
ripe, should be taken out and spread out to dry, and carefully kept for
use. For field culture, the hollow-crowned parsnip is the best and most
profitable; but on thin, shallow soils the turnip-rooted variety should
be used. Parsnips may be harvested like carrots, by plowing along the
rows. Let butter or cheese dairymen give this crop a fair and full
trial, and watch its effect in the quality of the milk and butter.

The KOHL RABI is also cultivated to a considerable extent in this
country for the purpose of feeding stock. It is supposed to be a hybrid
between the cabbage and the turnip and is often called the
cabbage-turnip, having the root of the former, with a turnip-like or
bulbous stem. The special reason for its more extensive cultivation
among us is its wonderful indifference to droughts, in which it seems to
flourish best, and to bring forth the most luxuriant crops. It also
withstands the frosts remarkably, being a hardy plant. It yields a
somewhat richer quality of milk than the ordinary turnip, and the crop
is generally admitted to be as abundant and profitable. Very large crops
of it have been produced by the ordinary turnip or cabbage cultivation.
As in cabbage-culture, it is best to sow the seed in March or April, in
a warm and well-enriched seed-bed; from which it is transplanted in May,
and set out after the manner of cabbages in garden culture. It bears
transplanting better than most other roots. Insects injure it less than
the turnip, dry weather favors it, and it keeps well through winter. For
these reasons, it must be regarded as a valuable addition to our list of
forage plants adapted to dairy farming. It grows well on stronger soils
than the turnip requires.

LINSEED MEAL is the ground cake of flaxseed after the oil is pressed
out. It is very rich in fat-forming principles, and given to milch cows
increases the quality of butter, and keeps them in condition. Four or
five pounds a day are sufficient for cows in milk, and this amount will
effect a great saving in the cost of other food, and at the same time
make a very rich milk. It is extensively manufactured in this country,
and largely exported, but it is worthy of more general use here. It must
not be fed in too large quantities to milch cows, for it would be liable
to give too great a tendency to fat, and thus affect the quantity of the
milk.

COTTON-SEED MEAL is an article of comparatively recent introduction. It
is obtained by pressing the seed of the cotton-plant, which extracts the
oil, when the cake is crushed or ground into meal, which has been found
to be a very valuable article for feeding stock. From analysis it is
shown to be equal or superior to linseed meal. Practical experiments
only are needed to establish it. It can be procured in market at a
reasonable price.

The MANURES used in this country for the culture of the above named
plants are mostly such as are made on the farm, consisting chiefly of
barnyard composts of various kinds, with often a large admixture of
peat-mud. There are few farms that do not contain substances, which, if
properly husbanded, would add very greatly to the amount of manure
ordinarily made. The best of the concentrated manures, which it is
sometimes necessary to use, for want of time and labor to prepare enough
upon the farm, is, unquestionably, Peruvian guano. The results of this,
when properly applied, are well known and reliable, which can hardly be
said of any other artificial manure offered for the farmer's notice. The
chief objection to depending upon manures made off the farm is, in the
first place, their great expense; and in the second--which is equally
important--the fact, that, though they may be made valuable, and produce
at one time the best results, a want of care in the manufacture, or
designed fraud, may make them almost worthless, with the impossibility
of detecting the imposition, without a chemical analysis, till it
becomes too late, and the crop is lost.

It is, therefore, safest to rely mainly upon the home manufacture of
manure. The extra expense of soiling cattle, saving and applying the
liquid manure, and thus bringing the land to a higher state of
cultivation, when it will be capable of keeping more stock and
furnishing more manure, would offer a surer road to success than a
constant outlay for concentrated fertilizers.





Next: The Barn

Previous: Soiling



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