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The Dairy Cow

Success in dairy farming depends largely upon the proper feeding of
stock. There are two questions that the dairy farmer should always ask
himself: Am I feeding as cheaply as I can? and, Am I feeding the best
rations for milk and butter production? Of course cows can be kept alive
and in fairly good milk flow on many different kinds of food, but in
feeding, as in everything else, there is an ideal to be sought.

What, then, is an ideal ration for a dairy cow? Before trying to answer
this question the word _ration_ needs to be explained. By ration is
meant a sufficient quantity of food to support properly an animal for
one day. If the animal is to have a proper ration, we must bear in mind
what the animal needs in order to be best nourished. To get material for
muscle, for blood, for milk, and for some other things, the animal
needs, in the first place, food that contains protein. To keep warm and
fat, the animal must, in the second place, have food containing
carbohydrates and fats. These foods must be mixed in right proportions.

With these facts in mind we are prepared for an answer to the question,
What is an ideal ration?

First, it is a ration that, without waste, furnishes both in weight and
bulk of dry matter a sufficient amount of digestible, nutritious food.

Second, it is a ration that is comparatively cheap.

Third, it is a ration in which the milk-forming food (protein) is
rightly proportioned to the heat-making and fat-making food
(carbohydrates and fat). Any ration in which this proportion is
neglected is badly balanced.

Now test one or two commonly used rations by these rules. Would a ration
of cotton-seed meal and cotton-seed hulls be a model ration? No. Such a
ration, since the seeds are grown at home, would be cheap enough.
However, it is badly balanced, for it is too rich in protein; hence it
is a wasteful ration. Would a ration of corn meal and corn stover be a
desirable ration? This, too, since the corn is home-grown, would be
cheap for the farmer; but, like the other, it is badly balanced, for it
contains too much carbohydrate food and is therefore a wasteful ration.

A badly balanced ration does harm in two ways: first, the milk flow of
the cow is lessened by such a ration; second, the cow does not
profitably use the food that she eats.

The following table gives an excellent dairy ration for the farmer who
has a silo. If he does not have a silo, some other food can be used in
place of the ensilage. The table also shows what each food contains. As
you grow older, it will pay you to study such tables most carefully.

FEED STUFFS Dry ProteinCarbohydrates Fat
Cowpea hay = 15 pounds[1] 13.50 1.62 5.79 .16
Corn stover = 10 pounds 5.95 .17 3.24 .07
Corn ensilage = 30 pounds 6.27 .27 3.39 .21
Cotton-seed meal = 2 pounds 1.83 .74 .33 .24
Total = 57 pounds 27.55 2.80 12.75 .68

[Footnote 1: Alfalfa or clover hay may take the place of cowpea hay.]

=Care of the Cow.= As the cow is one of the best money-makers on the
farm, she should, for this reason, if for no other, be comfortably
housed, well fed and watered, and most kindly treated. In your thoughts
for her well-being, bear the following directions in mind:

1. If you are not following a balanced ration, feed each day several
different kinds of food. In this way you will be least likely to waste

2. Feed at regular hours. Cows, like people, thrive best when their
lives are orderly.

3. Milk at regular hours.

4. Brush the udder carefully with a moist cloth before you begin to
milk. Cleanliness in handling makes the milk keep longer.

5. Always milk in buckets or cups that have been scalded since the last
using. The hot water kills the bacteria that collect in the dents or
cracks of the utensil.

6. Never let the milk pail remain in the stable. Milk rapidly absorbs
impurities. These spoil the flavor and cause the milk to sour.

7. Never scold or strike the cow. She is a nervous animal, and rough
usage checks the milk flow.

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