CUTTING AND COOKING FOOD FOR ANIMALS.__________________
A cursory survey of the business of agriculture will at once reveal the fact that the great effort of the farmer is to supply food for his animals, and that it requires more food to supply the animals kept in the United States than to feed its whole population. It becomes, then, one of the most important inquiries, how to economize this food so as to yield the greatest return. A saying of even ten per centum would amount to millions of dollars annually.
The discussion of the topics embraced in this article at State fairs, and by individuals, shows that farmers are anxiously inquiring upon this subject. Careful experiment is, no doubt, more satisfactory, and more convincing to the practical farmer, than any theory, however plausible, and he generally wishes to know, first of all, what the facts are. If they are upon the right side, he cares little for the reasons upon which the facts are founded. But there is no doubt, also, that a clear theory, or the justification of a process, increases confidence in its utility. The writer must, therefore, beg the indulgence of the reader, while he goes somewhat into the theory and reasons for cutting the dry food of animals.
Much has been said for and against this practice. One affirms that teeth are given to animals expressly to masticate their food, and that all attempts to grind or pulp it artificially, are impeachments of the wisdom of the Creator. The same line of argument would abolish all shelter and care of animals by man; would return man himself to the savage state, and feed him on wild fruits and nuts, Those who talk so reverently of nature, and fear so much to improve upon her, forget that cattle in their wild state crop only green, succulent grasses, and do not dry and lay up a supply for winter use. As soon as the grass becomes ripe and tough in the north, they migrate toward the south, where they find green herbage. Thus it will be seen that man, in domesticating animals and keeping them in a cold climate, changed their mode of living, substituting dry for green food in winter, and that it thus becomes necessary to compensate for this by assisting the animals in mastication. Man has produced from the wild crab-apple the splendid modern pippin; and from the lank wild bull and cow, the magnificent proportions of the Durham and the rounded beauty of the Devon. This, too, has all been done in opposition to the natural habits of tree and animal, and man is quite likely to continue his efforts so long as he is rewarded by such splendid results.
The object of mastication of food is to comminute it, to break down its structure, and to render it more easily acted upon by the gastric juice, thus enabling the animal to appropriate its nutriment, Now, the more finely divided food is, when subjected to the gastric juice, the more rapidly and easily it is digested. For when finely divided it presents many hundred times more surface to the action of the digesting fluid. This is simply represented in cooking fine meal or whole grain. We know it takes but a few minutes to cook the meal, while hours are required to soften the whole grain.
When cattle eat succulent food, the fibre is easily broken and reduced to a pulpy mass; but not so with dry, woody fibre, which must be broken and comminuted before the food contained in it is accessible for animal nutrition. This the animal seldom does, and more especially the non-ruminating; therefore it becomes highly necessary that we should use machinery to assist the animal, as much as possible, in extracting the nutriment contained in dry food. And if it be profitable to cut hay, straw, and other coarse fodder, for the purpose of breaking the fibre, and rendering it more easy of mastication and digestion by the animal, then it is well to cut or divide it as finely as is consistent with economy. There is no danger of inventing machinery which will cut or pulverize it too finely. The great want now is, a machine, cheap and durable, which shall reduce woody fibre to pulp. This will require a machine which shall bruise as well as cut, so as to leave the whole fibre thoroughly mashed and divided. It will not be liable to the objection urged, that it will leave nothing for the animal to do; for this dry fibre, when reduced to the greatest degree practicable, will still require more mastication than green grass. Our whole effort in cutting and steaming is merely to produce an imitation of nature’s green food.
Here another advantage not to be overlooked is, that it enables the feeder to mix different qualities of food together, making it all palatable, and thus saving all. This is a matter of great importance, and alone would vastly more than pay all the expense of cutting. In this manner poor straw and good hay may be mixed, coarse swale meadow hay with fine hay, corn stalks with hay, and pea or bean straw: with hay, when the poorer qualities would not be eaten alone; or, if hay be scarce or of too high price, cut straw may be made equivalent to the best hay, by mixing two quarts of fine middlings or bran, or one quart of corn meal with a bushel of straw.
The writer of this paper has practiced cutting and steaming fodder, of all kinds, in winter, for a stock numbering from ten to fifty-five neat cattle and horses, during the last ten years. He therefore deems his experience sufficient to enable him to speak with some degree of confidence. He tried a long series of experiments to determine the quantity of middlings or meal necessary to mix with a bushel of straw, to render it equivalent to the best hay. Ten animals of about uniform size, standing in the same stable, were parted—five being fed upon hay, and five upon the mixture. At first four quarts of middlings were mixed with a bushel of straw. The animals were fed for one month—five upon this mixture, and five upon the hay. Those fed upon the mixture were found to gain decidedly upon those fed upon the hay alone.
The experiment was then reversed, putting those upon the mixture that had fed upon the hay, and vice versa. At the end of the month those fed upon the straw and middlings had gained-rapidly, while those fed upon the hay had hardly held their condition. Then the experiment was continued by reducing the quantity of middlings one-half, or to two quarts, on which mixture the animals did rather better than those upon hay, while, upon reversing, those at first fed upon the hay when fed upon this mixture did better than those on hay. Upon several trials afterwards it was uniformly found that a bushel of straw with two quarts of middlings was quite equal to the same weight of cut hay, and was worth 25 per cent. more than uncut hay, It was found that the animals would eat 25 per cent. more hay uncut than cut. The same experiment was then tried with corn meal, and one and one-half pints were found to make a bushel of straw equal to hay, though-the formula is, generally given as a quart to a bushel of straw, which will render almost any quality of straw equal to the same weight of good timothy hay.398 AGRICULTURAL REPORT.
The writer has found for many years that he can winter his stock in better condition on straw and middlings, or meal, in the proportions given, than on hay. This is a large item near a good hay market, and where straw is worth but little, or in a grain country, where little else than straw is raised as fodder for animals. In this way all the coarse fodder on the farm of every description may be consumed by animals, and thus turned into money. Where steaming is practiced there is also a large profit. Besides, this enables the feeder to prepare a special food to produce such special results as he may desire. It is well known that the intelligent feeder may increase the frame, or muscle, or fat of an animal exclusively, or he may increase them all together. If he wishes to increase the frame and muscle particularly,-he will give food rich in phosphate of lime and gluten, without having much oil or a large proportion of starch; and for this purpose pea or bean meal, mixed with his coarse fodder, will produce the desired result. If he wishes to lay-on fat principally, he will use corn meal or oil meal. If to produce growth of the animal in frame and muscle, as well as fat, let him mix the different kinds of food together. Thus he may produce such results as he pleases, and, at the same time, use what would otherwise be refuse and waste.
It is shown, by accurate observation, that hay, straw, or other coarse fodder, when well cut, is more uniformly digested by both neat cattle, horses, and sheep, than uncut. In England large feeders have estimated the gain in nutriment and saving of waste in hay to be equal to 25 per cent. Some experiments in this country have estimated the gain even higher, and certainly the gain is more in cutting coarse fodder than on hay.
An experiment will illustrate the profit of cutting. When keeping a small stock, which would consume thirty tons of hay in a winter, seven tons of hay were sold, and seven tons of middlings bought and used upon cut straw, (two quarts upon a bushel,) and the stock wintered in fine condition. The straw was thus tumed into twenty-three tons of hay, worth, that year, $18 per ton in barn, or $405; (generally it is worth $12 per ton.) Hay, in most localities, is worth as much per ton as middlings, and half to three-fourths as much as corn meal; therefore the avails of one-fourth the quantity of hay requisite to winter a stock of animals will purchase the middlings or meal necessary to use upon the straw, and the hay (or its value) be saved to the farmer. Indeed, from long practice, the economy of the straw cutter is as well established with the writer of this article as that of the mowing machine.
But it is sometimes said that it may pay on a small scale, and accordingly many small hand-machines are found by which farmers cut for a few cows, or a pair of horses, still feeding the principal part of their stock uncut food. In this idea the ordinary rule of manufacturers is reversed, viz: that what will pay upon a small scale will pay much better on a large scale. It costs more in proportion to make one wagon than one hundred; so it costs more in pro- portion to cut fodder for five animals than for fifty. To show that it pays on a large scale to cut hay, we have only to refer to the fact that the large omnibus lines and street railroad companies of our large cities cut all the hay and coarse fodder used for their hundreds of horses. These companies have learned, from practical experience, that the saving is many times the cost of cutting.
When cutting is done for a large stock with the largest size two-horse machine, it takes but little longer to cut a ton of hay than to handle it without cutting. Horse or steam power is much cheaper than hand power when more than a few animals are to be fed.
Much improvement has been made within a few years in the construction of straw cutters. It is of the highest importance in selecting a machine to get one that cuts short and with perfect regularity; and to this end great attention must be paid to the feed apparatus. Unless the hay or straw is delivered to the knives with perfect regularity, the work will be badly done. The greatest fault of most machines is the defect in this part of the machinery. Some are fed by hand. These should be discarded, as there can in this way be no regularity of cut. A short and regular cut secured, next in importance is strength, simplicity, and durability. The two machines that combine these requisites most perfectly are the Cummings’s patent, made at Fulton, New York, and the Empire Cutter, made at Rochester, New York. The writer has used one of the former for some six years, and he can say for it that it works as well as a machine can which cuts without mashing the fibre. The perfection of this kind of machine is yet to be invented which shall mash or pulp the fodder. The machine first named cuts from one-eighth. to six-eighths of an inch, but both cut well and with regularity.
Steaming food is less practicable but even more important than cutting. Cooking food for animals is of comparatively recent date. A brief notice of its rationale will demonstrate its importance, as well to animals as to man.
Pereira says: “To render starchy substances digestible, they require to be cooked, in order to break or crack the grains; for of the different lamina of which each grain consists, the outer ones are the most cohesive, and present the greatest resistance to the digestive power of the stomach, while the internal ones are least so.” "Starch," says Raspail, “is not actually nutritive to man until it has been boiled or cooked. The heat of the stomach is not sufficient to burst all the grains of the feculent mass which is subjected to the rapid action of this organ. The stomachs of graminiverous animals and birds seem to possess, in this respect, a particular power, for they use feculent substances in a raw state. Nevertheless, recent experiments prove the advantage that results from boiling the potatoes and grain, and partially altered farina, which are given to them for food; for a large proportion, when given whole, in the raw state, passes through the intestine perfectly unaffected as when swallowed.” Braconnot found unbroken starch grains in the excrement of hot-blooded animals fed on raw potatoes; hence he adds, “the potatoes employed for feeding cattle should be boiled, since, independently of the accidents which may arise from the use of them in a raw state, a considerable quantity of alimentary matter is lost by the use of these tubers in the unboiled state.”
So much for the effect of heat upon grain and roots; but it may be asked
whether we can derive the same benefit from cooking hay, straw, and other
coarse fodder for stock. The following quotation from Regnault will show
what difference exists between them, the stems containing woody fibre as well
as cellulose, while roots and grains do not:
“A microscopic examination of the various component parts of plants shows them all to be constituted of cellular tissue, varying in form according to the part of the vegetable subjected to examination. The cavities of the tissue are filled with very diversified matter; sometimes, as in the case of wood, the parietes of the cells are covered by a hard and brittle substance called lignum, or woody fibre, which frequently almost completely fills their interstices; while, at other times, as in the grains of the cerealia, potatoes and other tubers, the cells contain a quantity of small ovoidal globules, varying in size, constituting fecula or starch; and lastly, in the case of the young organs of plants, the cells contain only a more or less viscous fluid, holding in solution mineral salts and various organic substances, the principal of which are gums, gelatinous combinations, designated by the general name of albuminous substances.” We conclude, then, that if heat aids in rendering the nutritive principles of roots and grains more accessible to the assimilating faculty, it will also assist in softening the fibre of hay and straw. The cell walls which imprison the alimentary substances mentioned, will, by the joint processes of cutting and steaming, be more or less broken and weakened.
The following extract from Johnston’s Agricultural Chemistry shows the further effect of heat upon starch itself:
“When wheat flour, potato, or arrow root starch is spread upon a tray and gradually heated in an oven to a temperature not exceeding 300° F,, it slowly changes, acquires a yellow or brownish tint, according to the temperature employed, and becomes entirely soluble in cold water. It is changed into dextrin gum. * * * During the baking of bread this conversion of starch into gum takes place to a considerable extent, Thus Vogel found that flour which contained no gum, gave, when baked, a bread of which 18 per cent., or nearly one-fifth of the whole weight, consisted of gum. Thus one result of baking is to render the flour starch more soluble, and therefore more easily digested.” Of starch he says: “It is a property of starch of all kinds to be insoluble in cold water, but to dissolve readily in boiling water, and to thicken into a jelly or paste as it cools.” It is supposed that, by digestion, starch becomes converted into gum or sugar, and the latter probably becomes absorbed. It is also an element of respiration, and, according to Liebig, contributes to the formation of fat in animals. His theory is, no doubt, well founded, and explains the fattening of animals when fed upon Indian corn.
Few farmers are aware of the value of straw. By the present system of feeding in this country little or no account is made of it. It serves mostly as litter for animals. Let us examine the general analysis of straw, as compared with the forage crops and grains. The following table is from the Cyclopedia of Agriculture:
|(J. H. Salesbury.)|
|Heat and fat-producing matters||35.273||33.86|
|Mineral matters or ash||8.68|
|Indian corn||Wheat bran|
|Heat and fat-producing principles||69.3|
|Legumin, albumen, &c||26.4||23.6|
|Oil and fat||12||0.7|
|Salts and loss||2.0||1.0|
The analysis of wheat straw, cornstalks, and bean straw will show at once the large amount of nutritive matter they contain, besides that denominated wood fibre. Bean straw and wheat bran, it will be seen, are very rich in nitrogenous matter, and therefore will build up the muscular system of the animal, From long experience we have found wheat bran to be equal, practically, to the analysis. If steamed, we regard it as valuable, per weight, as corn meal. Its analysis indicates that it has more muscle-forming matter than corn. This will indicate the important use that farmers should make of bran, when it is to be had for the price of hay, in feeding cows and young animals. An examination of these analyses will show readily how to mix a proper food to build up all parts of the animal system.
It will now be in order to give the reader a detailed account of the manner of conducting this cooking process.. A perfect steam apparatus is yet to be invented. Many methods are used. The writer will describe the one he uses, and also a simpler and cheaper one for a small stock.
The one he has how in use consists. of a wrought-iron cylinder, one-eighth inch thick, thirty inches in diameter, four feet long, with one-quarter inch iron heads. The front end has an elliptical opening, by which to draw off the water and clean it out, secured} when in use, by an iron stopper with rubber packing. On the top is another like opening, through which to fill it with water, and secured in like manner. An iron pipe, one and a half inch in diameter, is fastened to the top of the boiler, passes over the side of the brick-work, and down to the bottom of the steam box, where it enters the side near the centre. This boiler is set in brick-work, in a horizontal position. It is raised about sixteen inches above the first bed or grate. he fire is conducted under the length of the boiler, and partly up the back end; then carried along each side to near the front end in a flue, and carried back to the chimney in another flue above this. This leaves the front end of the boiler exposed, in which there is a cock from which to draw hot water if wanted. My steam box is made of matched pine plank, one and a quarter inch thick. It is four and a half by five feet, and three feet deep, holding over fifty bushels of feed. It might be larger if the stock required it, as my boiler generates steam enough for 150 bushels. The box is closed with a wooden cover.
The feed is prepared for steaming thus: The cut straw, hay and straw, or other cut feed, sufficient to fill the steam box, is measured in a square six-bushel basket. It is then moistened by a four-gallon watering pot, with twenty gallons of water to fifty bushels of feed, while it is being stirred up with a fork. Then two quarts of wheat bran to the bushel of straw is mixed in the same manner, and a little salt added, when it is put into the steam box and steamed for an hour and a half. This feed will keep warm for two days in the coldest weather.
The reader will readily see the defect in this arrangement, as, with such a steam box, no considerable pressure can be obtained; hence it does not reduce the feed to such a pulp as is desirable. Yet it modifies and softens it very much. My boiler would safely bear a pressure of thirty pounds to the inch, and, with an iron steam box, the feed could as cheaply be put under that pressure and reduced to such a pulp as is desirable, as it now is steamed in the wooden box. When iron-work shall be reduced to the price charged before the war, an apparatus with iron boiler and iron steam box, will be within the easy expenditure of every considerable cattle feeder, costing not over one hundred and fifty dollars. This amount would be more than made up by its use for a single year.CUTTING AND COOKING FOOD FOR ANIMALS. 403
We will next give a description of a very simple apparatus, which is within the reach of every farmer. It is described, without the improvement which should be made to it, in the transactions of the American Institute for 1863. “Get a sheet of No. 18 iron, (No. 16 would be better,) 32 to 36 inches wide, and seven or eight feet long (or two sheets may be riveted together, and thus make one fourteen feet long, if much work is to be done.) Take 2-inch pine plank, (maple would be better,) about two feet wide; let the sides extend three inches past the end plank; make a box a little flaring at the top and wide and long enough, so that the bottom sheet will cover and project half an inch on each side and end. Let the ends into the sides ¼ to ⅜-inch in making the box, and put it together with white lead and oil, and put two ⅜-inch iron rods through the sides at each end, outside of the end plank; then nail on the bottom sheet with two rows of five-penny nails, the nails about one inch apart in the rows, and breaking joints, and bend up the sheet where it projects.” This will hold some thirty bushels. “Now take flat stones or bricks, and make a fireplace the length of your box, and eight inches narrower on the inside than your box is wide on the outside.” Fire bed should be 16 or 18 inches deep. “Put across at each end a flat bar of iron ½ by 1½-inch, so as to lay a row of bricks on these for the ends of the box to rest on, and at the back end let the arch run out so as to build a small chimney, and put on some joints of stove-pipe, and you have a cooking apparatus.” ’ This is a good boiling arrangement, where only water or some thin liquid is to be heated; but if hay or straw, or even potatoes, are to be boiled with little water, as would be the case, especially in steaming fodder, it would settle and burn on the bottom. We have many times tried this in a large kettle, with this result. This difficulty can be obviated entirely, and a good steaming apparatus be made of it by placing a false bottom one inch above the real bottom. 'This may be done in the following manner: Take a sheet of No. 18 iron, of. the size of the box, or, perhaps, one-half inch wider; have this punched with small holes, so as to let the water down and the steam up. It can be let into the side of the box, or a half inch cleat can be nailed on the side and end of the box for it to rest on. This would not sufficiently support the weight of feed to put on it, and, therefore, ⅜-inch rods must be put through the sides, under this false bottom, to sustain it—one, perhaps, every foot. Then a wooden or iron faucet must be put through the side between these bottoms, to to draw off the water. Now a wooden cover on the top of the box to keep the steam in, and here is as complete, effectual, and cheap a steamer for cooking without pressure, as can be desired. The whole apparatus would not, probably, cost over $25, for the seven feet, or $50 for the fourteen feet length. This largest size would be ample for fifty to seventy-five head of cattle and horses. The chimney should be as long as the steam box, to make a proper draft.
There is, also, D. R. Prindle’s agricultural caldron and steamer, a portable apparatus used for boiling and steaming. It has been used in various parts of the country and highly spoken of for its convenience in being adapted to cooking for stock, as well as for most other heating purposes on the farm.
For the benefit of those who wish to feed a large stock, one to two hundred head of cattle, or more, we will suggest an arrangement which will save much labor, economize the material, and produce more uniform results.
A portable steam engine of five horse power provided, we will arrange the
animals, steam box, food, &c., as follows:
The stables are in the lower story, on each side of a feeding floor ten feet wide It would be more convenient to have room behind each tier of animals to pass a cart or wagon to carry off the manure, than to throw it out at the side. A wooden track should be laid in the centre of the feeding floor on which to run the steam boxes. Two, holding 100 bushels each, should be provided for 100 cattle. One would be run under the upper floor to be filled and steamed, and then moved away for use; while the other could be run to the spot, filled and steamed. On the upper floor the straw cutter would be placed, provided with a feeding apron to feed itself, with two bins overhead, one for cut hay or straw, the other for meal or bran. Elevators to carry up the cut feed from the straw cutter to the feed bin, as fast as cut, would be necessary.
There would also be necessary a water pipe connected with an elevated reservoir, to furnish water to moisten the feed. A tank might be placed overhead and filled by a force pump. Then, in a scuttle through the floor, directly over the steam box, there will be placed a cask or cylinder, three feet in diameter and five feet long, without a bottom, but a bar across the lower end, on which an upright revolving shaft will be set in the centre, provided with six arms, just long enough to turn inside. This shaft will pass through a like cross-bar on the top, and extending above enough to receive a pully of the proper size to revolve it some six hundred times per minute. Now a spout will extend from the elevated feed-bin to the top of this cylinder, with a slide to open or shut it; also a spout extending from the meal or bran bin, so as to communicate in the same way with the cylinder, and a water-pipe, also, furnished with stop-cock and movable cover, will be placed on top of the cylinder. A belt will run from the engine to the pully on the top of this shaft. Now, when ready to fill the steam box, this shaft will be set in motion—the spout for cut feed will be opened so as to discharge a definite quantity, the spout for meal opened to discharge the proportion desired, and the water, so as to let in twenty gallons for fifty bushels of feed. It will-be seen that the feed, and meal, and water, in passing through the cylinder, will come in contact with these swift moving arms on the shaft, and be thoroughly mixed, and fall into the steam box, ready for steaming. The feed should be pressed into the steam box, as more will be steamed and better. With this arrangement, one expert man may cut and steam feed for one hundred head of cattle, and two men could easily care for two hundred. It will be seen that, with proper system and machinery, the expense of cutting and steaming for a large stock will be little more than in the ordinary way of feeding. This steam engine may be used to grind the grain, cut and steam the feed, and do all the work requiring stationary power on the farm. The engine should be placed as near the steam box and straw cutter as it can be with safety. A double spark extinguisher must be placed over the chimney, to prevent fire.
It now remains for us to give the results of cooking by the method detailed.
First. It renders mouldy hay, straw, and cornstalks, perfectly sweet and palatable. Animals seem to relish straw taken from a stack which has been wet and badly damaged for: ordinary use; and even in any condition, except “dry rot,” steaming will restore its sweetness. When keeping a large stock we have often purchased stacks of straw which would have been worthless for feeding in the ordinary way, and have been able to detect no difference, after steaming, in the smell or the relish with which it was eaten.
Second. It diffuses the odor of the bran, corn meal, oil meal, carrots, or whatever is mixed with the feed, through the whole mass; and thus it may cheaply be flavored to suit the animal.
Third. It softens the tough fibre of the dry cornstalk, rye straw, and other hard material, rendering it almost like green succulent food, and easily masticated and digested by the animal.
Fourth. It renders beans and peas agreeable food to horses, as well as other animals, and thus enables the feeder to combine more nitrogenous food in the diet of his animals.
Fifth. It enables the feeder to turn everything raised into food for his stock, without lessening the value of his manure. Indeed, the manure made from steamed food decomposes more readily, and is therefore more valuable than when used in a fresh state. Manure made from steamed food is always ready for use, and is regarded by those who have used it as much more valuable, for the same bulk, than that made from uncooked food.
Sixth. We have found it to cure incipient heaves in horses, and horses having a cough for several months at pasture have been cured in two weeks on steamed feed. It has a remarkable effect upon horses with a sudden cold, and in constipation. Horses fed upon it seem much less liable to disease; in fact, in this respect, it seems to have all the good qualities of grass, the natural food of animals.
Seventh. It produces a marked difference in the appearance of the animal, at once causing the coat to become smooth and of a brighter color—regulates the digestion, makes the animal more contented and satisfied, enables fattening stock to eat their food with less labor, (and consequently requires less to keep up the animal heat,) gives working animals time to eat all that is necessary for them in the intervals of labor; and this is of much importance, especially with horses. It also enables the feeder to fatten animals in one-third less time.
Eighth. It saves at least one-third of the food. We have found two bushels of cut and cooked hay to satisfy cows as well as three bushels of uncooked hay, and the manure in the case of the uncooked hay contained much more fibrous matter, unutilized by the animal. This is more particularly the case with horses,
These have been the general results of our practice, and, we presume, do not materially differ from those of others who have given cooked food a fair trial.
George A. Moore, at the New York State Fair discussion, 1864, says: “I was feeding sheep and cutting for them timothy hay, millet, carrots, and feeding with bean and oat meal. Before steaming, I found, by weighing, I was putting on two pounds of flesh per week. After steaming, I put on three pounds per week, and the stock eat the food cleaner, and I noticed they laid down quietly after feeding. I also experimented with sixty-four cows. Used one of Prindle’s steamers; had a quantity of musty hay which I cut and steamed. They would eat it entirely up, and seemed better satisfied with it than the sweetest unsteamed hay. Steamed food does not constipate the animal, the hair looks better. I think cutting and steaming combined insure a gain to the feeder of at least thirty-three per cent. The manure resulting from feeding steamed food is worth double that from feeding in the ordinary way. Have kept eighty head of stock, and had a surplus of food, on a farm where, previously, only fifty were carried through, and hay bought at that. After cows come in, steamed food increases the milk one-third, and the cows do better when put out to grass."
George Geddes, in the same discussion, says: “I find if I take ten bushels of meal and wet it in cold water, and feed twenty-five hogs with it, that they eat it well; but if I take the same and cook it, it will take the same number of hogs twice as long to eat it up, and I think they fatten quite as fast in the same length of time. By cooking you double the bulk.”
A. B. Conger, ex-president of New York Agricultural Society, said at same discussion: "But steaming alone is not sufficient in the preparation of the food. It must be first wet, so that if left alone ten hours it will heat. Water in large proportion must be added to the hay or straw after cutting. And so prepared and steamed, thirty head of stock may be kept on the same amount of food as twenty on unprepared food. The mistake made in the early experiments in this country and England was, that the food was not sufficiently wet before steaming.”
Professor Mapes says, Transactions American Institute, 1854, page 373: “Raw food is not in condition to be appropriated to the tissues of animal life. The experiment, often tried, has proved that eighteen or nineteen pounds of cooked corn is equal to fifty pounds of raw corn for hog feed. Mr. Mason, of New Jersey, found that pork fed with raw grain cost twelve and a half cents a pound, and that from cooked food four and a half cents. Cooked cornstalks are as soft and almost a nutritious as green stalks. Cooking is an improvement that pays. Cattle can be fattened at about half the expense upon cooked food, in a warm stable, that others can out doors upon raw food.”
S. H. Clay, of Kentucky, says: "Fed two hogs on uncooked corn in thirty days 405 pounds, and they gained 42 pounds; while two hogs fed on cooked corn meal for thirty days ate 270 pounds, and gained 80 pounds, The food was then reversed, and the two hogs that had previously had dry corn, were fed on cooked meal. In twenty-six days the two hogs that were fed on dry food ate 364 pounds of shelled corn, and gained 44 pounds; while the two hogs fed on cooked meal ate, during the same time, only 234 pounds, and gained 74 pounds.” Here it appears that a bushel of raw corn makes 5¾ pounds of pork, while a bushel of cooked meal makes 17½ pounds.
James Buckingham gives, in the Prairie Farmer, an experiment with cooked corn meal, corn in the ear, and raw meal. He put three hogs into separate pens. “One ate three and a half bushels of corn in the ear in nine days, and gained nineteen pounds. Another ate, in the same time, one and three-quarter bushels of corn ground, and gained nineteen pounds; while the third ate, in the same time, one bushel ground and boiled meal, and gained twenty-two pounds.”
The society of Shakers, at Lebanon, New York, communicated the following to the agricultural report of the Patent Office: "The experience of thirty years leads us to estimate ground corn one-third higher than unground as a food for cattle, and especially for fattening pork. Hence it has been the practice of our society, for more than a quarter of a century, to grind all our provender. The same induces us to put a higher value upon cooked than raw meal; and for fattening animals, swine particularly, we consider three of cooked equal to four of raw meal, Our society, annually, for some twenty-seven years, has fattened 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of pork, and it is the constant practice to cook the meal, for which purpose six or seven potash kettles are used.”
Such is the general tenor of the testimony of those who have tested cooking fairly in this country. It will be seen that most of the experiments relate to cooking grain. Steaming coarse fodder has not been extensively practiced here, but when a fair trial has been given, the result has been quite satisfactory.
Professor Horsfall, of England, has practiced mixing a special food for milch cows, to produce a large yield of milk of good quality, and to keep up the flesh of the cow in a full flow of milk. He says: “I now proceed to describe the means I am using to carry out the purposes which I have sought to explain. My food for milch cows, after having undergone various modifications, has for two seasons consisted of rape cake five pounds, and bran two pounds, for each cow, mixed with a sufficient quantity of bean straw, oat straw, and shells of oats, in equal proportions, to supply them three times a day as much as they will eat. The whole of the materials are moistened and blended together, and, after being well steamed, are given to the animals in a warm state. The attendant is allowed one to one and a half pound per cow, according to circumstances, of bean meal, which he is charged to give each cow in proportion to the yield of milk; those in full milk getting two pounds each per day, others but little. It is dry, and mixed with the steamed food on its being dealt out separately. Bean straw, uncooked, is dry and unpalatable; by the process of steaming it becomes soft and pulpy, emits an agreeable odor, and imparts flavor and relish to the mess. In albuminous matter, which is especially valuable for milch cows, it has nearly double the proportion contained in meadow hay. Bran undergoes a great improvement in its flavor by steaming, and is probably improved in its convertibility as food. Rape cake has a large proportion (nearly thirty per cent.) of albumen, rich in phosphate and oil. * * * During May my cows are turned out on a rich pasture near the homestead, towards evening they are again housed for the night, when they are supplied with a mess of steamed mixture and a little hay, each morning and evening. I have cooked or steamed food for several years, and my experience of its benefits is such, that if I were deprived of it I could not continue to feed with satisfaction.” — Transactions of the New York State Agricultural Society of 1856, page 224.
Mr. Mechi, near London, has also practiced cutting and steaming straw mixed with materials similar to Professor Horsfall. He estimates straw worth about ten dollars per ton to feed after steaming. His experiments have been quite extensive, and the results most favorable to cooking food. His practice has not generally obtained yet in England, but it is constantly extending, and in this. country stock feeders are just beginning to turn their attention to the subject.