Soiling





Of the advantages of soiling milch cows--that is, feeding exclusively in

the barn--there are yet many conflicting opinions. As to its economy of

land and feed there can be no question, it being generally admitted that

a given number of animals may be abundantly fed on a less space; nor is

there much question as to the increased quantity of milk yielded in

stall feeding. Its economy, in this country, turns rather upon the cost

of labor and time; and the question raised by the dairyman is, whether

it will pay--whether its advantages are sufficient to balance the extra

expense of cutting and feeding, over and above cropping on the pasture.

The importance of this subject has been strongly impressed upon the

attention of farmers in many sections of the country, by a growing

conviction that something must be done to improve the pastures, or that

they must be abandoned altogether.



Thousands of acres of neglected pasture-land in the older States are so

poor and worn out that from four to eight acres furnish but a miserable

subsistence for a good-sized cow. No animal can flourish under such

circumstances. The labor and exertion of feeding are too great, to say

nothing of the vastly inferior quality of the grasses in such pastures,

compared with those on more recently seeded lands. True economy would

dictate that such pastures should either be allowed to run to wood, or

be devoted to sheep-walks, or ploughed and improved. Cows, to be able to

yield well, must have plenty of food of a sweet and nutritious quality;

and, unless they find it, they wander over a large space, if at liberty,

and thus deprive themselves of rest.



If a farmer or dairyman unfortunately owns such pastures, there can be

no question that, as a matter of real economy, he had better resort to

the soiling system for his milch cows; by which means he will largely

increase his annual supply of good manure, and thus have the means of

improving, and bringing his land to a higher state of cultivation. A

very successful instance of this management occurs in the report of the

visiting committee of an agricultural society in Massachusetts, in which

they say: "We have now in mind a farmer in this county who keeps seven

or eight cows in the stable through the summer, and feeds them on green

fodder, chiefly Indian corn. We asked him his reasons for it. His answer

was: 1. That he gets more milk than he can by any other method. 2. That

he gets more manure, especially liquid manure. 3. That he saves it all,

by keeping a supply of mud or mould under the stable, to be taken out

and renewed as often as necessary. 4. That it is less troublesome than

to drive his cows to pasture; that they are less vexed by flies, and

have equally good health. 5. That his mowing land is every year growing

more productive, without the expense of artificial manure.--He estimates

that on an acre of good land twenty tons of green fodder may be raised.

That which is dried is cut fine, and mixed with meal or shorts, and fed

with profit. He believes that a reduced and worn-out farm--supposing the

land to be naturally good--could be brought into prime order in five

years, without any extra outlay of money for manure, by the use of green

fodder in connection with the raising and keeping of pigs; not

fattening them, but selling at the age of four or five months." He

keeps most of his land in grass, improving its quality and

productiveness by means of top-dressing, and putting money in his

pocket--which is, after all, the true test both for theory and practice.



Another practical case on this point is that of a gentleman in the same

State who had four cows, but not a rod of land on which to pasture them.

They were, therefore, never out of the barn--or, at least, not out of

the yard--and were fed with grass, regularly mown for them; with green

Indian corn and fodder, which had been sown broadcast for the purpose;

and with about three pints of meal a day. Their produce in butter was

kept for thirteen weeks. Two of them were but two years old, having

calved the same spring. All the milk of one of them was taken by her

calf for six weeks out of the thirteen, and some of the milk of the

other was taken for family use, the quantity of which was not measured.

These heifers could not, therefore, be estimated as equal to more than

one cow in full milk. And yet from these cows no less than three hundred

and eighty-nine pounds of butter were made in the thirteen weeks.

Another pound would have made an average of thirty pounds a week for the

whole time.



It appears from these and other similar instances of soiling, or

stall-feeding in summer on green crops cut for the purpose, that the

largely increased quantity of the yield fully compensates for the

slightly deteriorated quality. And not only is the quantity yielded by

each cow increased, but the same extent of land, under the same culture,

will carry double or treble the number of ordinary pastures, and keep

them in better condition. There is also a saving of manure. But with us

the economy of soiling is the exception, and not the rule.



In adopting this system of feeding, regularity is required as much as in

any other, and a proper variety of food. A succession of green crops

should be provided, as near as convenient to the stable. The first will

naturally be winter rye, in the Northern States, as that shoots up with

great luxuriance. Winter rape would probably be an exceedingly valuable

addition to the plants usually cultivated for soiling in this country,

in sections where it would withstand the severity of the winter.

Cabbages, kept in the cellar or pit, and transplanted early, will also

come in here to advantage, and clover will very soon follow them; oats,

millet, and green Indian-corn, as the season advances; and, a little

later still, perhaps, the Chinese sugar-cane, which should not be cut

till headed out. These plants, in addition to other cultivated grasses,

will furnish an unfailing succession of succulent and tender fodder;

while the addition of a little Indian, linseed, or cotton-seed meal will

be found economical.



In the vicinity of large towns and cities, where the object is too often

to feed for the largest quantity, without reference to quality, an

article known as distillers' swill, or still-slop, is extensively used.

This, if properly fed in limited quantities, in combination with other

and more bulky food, may be a valuable article for the dairyman; but, if

given--as it too often is--without the addition of other kinds of food,

it soon affects the health and constitution of the animals fed on it.

This swill contains a considerable quantity of water, some nitrogenous

compounds, and some inorganic matter in the shape of phosphates and

alkaline salts found in the different kinds of grain of which it is made

up, as Indian corn, wheat, barley, rye, and the like. Where this forms

the principal food of milch cows, the milk is of a very poor

quality--blue in color, and requiring the addition of coloring

substances to make it saleable. It contains, often, less than one per

cent. of butter, and seldom over one and three-tenths or one and a half

per cent.--while good, saleable milk should contain from three to five

per cent. It will not coagulate, it is said, in less than five or six

hours; while good milk will invariably coagulate in an hour or less,

under the same conditions. Its effect on the system of young children

is, therefore, very destructive, causing diseases of various kinds, and,

if continued, death.



So pernicious have been the consequences resulting from the use of this

"swill-milk," as it is called, in the largest city of this country, that

the Legislature of the State of New York, at a recent session (1861-2),

interfered in behalf of the community by making the sale of the article

a penal offence.





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