The Fir Trade in Canada: Mapping Commodity Flows on Railways


By Joshua MacFadyen and Nolan Kressin*, University of Prince Edward Island

For the full lesson on the historical GIS methods and tools described in this post, see the new tutorial in the Geospatial Historian Methods of Visualizing Temporal Data, by Nolan Kressin and Joshua MacFadyen.

The movement of commodities has been an important study within Canadian scholarship since Harold Innis wrote The Fur Trade in Canada (1930), but many forget that in his earlier thesis on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Innis also focused on the goods that these lines carried to market each year. By examining the records of the CPR, Innis painstakingly summarized the freight capacity and the market conditions that shaped this chapter in Canadian environmental history. Innis was well-known as a “dirt” researcher, digging into archival collections and often cutting-and-pasting his notes across manuscripts (literally, with scissors) to organize the enormous amounts of information he collected. As historians turn to more focused studies of individual commodities, we can parse large historical datasets with tools beyond scissors and glue. In this piece we discuss new ways to take some of the same historical railway data and focus on resources like firewood and lumber in their natural environments. In theory, we could even use the railway locations to focus on forest types (softwood) or even species. Perhaps if he had these digital tools, Innis’s first book after the CPR study might have been called the “Fir Trade in Canada.”

Scholars like Innis might well have imagined a time when computerized systems could assist in the collection and visualization of historical records, but I’m not sure they could have foreseen tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the ability to create animated maps of railways and the goods they carried between rural and urban environments. In this article, we explain the process we followed to create just such an animated map of a firewood as it was hauled around by not just the CPR, but all railways in Canada. We needed a map that would help shed light on both the geographic distribution of biomass energy production and consumption and the temporal trends during a period of intensive economic growth (and hence energy expansion). We know that seems like a rather specific research question, but we argue that others could follow a similar process to map the movements of any commodity or passenger traffic on historical railways or any other routes (eg road or water transport) over time.Firewood hauled on eastern Canadian railways, 1876-1903. The symbols represent the cords of wood hauled per meter on individual railways.

The method we cover in the tutorial is a relatively new feature in Geographic Information Systems known as time mapping, or temporal GIS. GIS was designed to visualize and analyse spatial data, first and foremost. Only in recent years have developers focused on the software’s capacity to represent the temporal attributes that accompany many forms of geographic information. Now there are many striking examples of visualizations that can map everything from the patterns of wind to the shipment of goods, and the movement of migrants. The humanities are close behind with time maps of US population density (1790-2010), trans-Atlantic slavery, and nuclear detonations since 1945. Military historians have created time maps of conflicts from stylized animations of US Civil War battlefields to detailed sequences of Canadian movements at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. For a large collection of projects containing some element of animation see Mapping History from the University of Oregon.

As ESRI’s guide to “Working with Temporal Data in ArcGIS” explains, there are at least four types of temporal GIS data. Moving features are those that move over space, like a tornado or hurricane where the centre is often in a different location every hour. Discrete events can contain data about features that usually happen in a single place and time, like a car accident. Stationary features contain data about a single place over time, such as a sensor, and change/growth features represent a feature that changes in size, such as a forest fire, or in the case of this exercise, railways. 

Like many aspects of GIS, its temporal capabilities often exceed what historians need. Any of those data types above can use calendar or non-calendar time scales up to fractions of a second apart. Historians often have much coarser temporal details for our data (months or years), or we want to map features in decades or even centuries. Moreover, we are often missing or uncertain of key dates. GIS lacks the ability to incorporate most of these uncertainties, and cartographers often have to get creative when mapping historical features. In this example of historical railways, the data were reported inconsistently in both time and space. We were missing key dates in the 1890s because officials reported each company’s freight data in an aggregated form. We were also missing some spaces because certain railways existed but did not report their freight data accurately, or at all, in some years. Finally, historians routinely work with a sample of the total available data, particularly when extensive digitization, data entry, and development are necessary. Depending on their objectives, scholars can uncover and demonstrate geographic patterns without entering every known historical observation. In the case of Canadian railways, we decided to work with sample years in the period (1876-1921), selecting dates that we knew were relatively complete and that illustrated the extent of wood shipments in key periods.

Even some of the more complete records of railway freight aggregated the data for major trunk lines. “Summary Statement of Description of Freight Carried, for the year ended 30th June, 1886,” Sessional Papers of Canada 1887.

Digital humanities scholars use a variety of tools to help visualize historical change in a GIS. In the early days of PowerPoint, historians might have created a series of maps with an identical scale and extent and then shown them in sequence (or even as an animation) in order to help audiences quickly recognize spatial patterns that changed over time. Increasingly, scholars now use video and gif photo formats to create a similar effect in a file format that is easier to share online or outside of a lecture setting. GIS companies have made it easier to share series of static map images online or map sequences in a web interface so that they appear to change at the user’s control. Sean Kheraj used ESRI Story Maps and YouTube video animations to show the expansion of pump stations, mainlines, and capacity in Canadian oil pipelines between 1950-1979. These visualizations were part of his research project “Silent Rivers of Oil: A History of Oil Pipelines in Canada since 1947,” available in several talks and publications on this NiCHE project page.

Two of the main GIS developers (ESRI and QGIS) now offer tools that will recognize calendar or non-calendar time attributes in your data and then display them in a sequence using a time slider control feature. These tools have both descriptive and analytical applications, and we would argue that railway maps are a great candidate for both. Similar to Kheraj’s pipeline map, ESRI Canada has created a web map (and accompanying lesson) on ArcGIS Online. The result shows some of the strengths of a time-enabled map of historical transportation systems like the Canadian railways, and readers who simply want to see a basic map of railway expansion in Canada, should certainly check it out. However, for those who want to map and visualize changes in historical data (such as firewood or other freight), keep reading and consider following through to our full Geospatial Historian lesson on temporal GIS.

Temporal GIS also allows historians to conduct analytical exercises based on the temporal attributes of their historical data. In many cases, it would be nearly impossible to answer some of these questions without a GIS. For example, consider a query like “how often did icebergs come within 10 Km of Twillingate Lighthouse in Newfoundland in May of each year, and did those increase or decrease with changes in global and regional climate?” To answer this question you would need something like the iceberg sightings database (c1800-1959) with multiple years of iceberg data including both their precise location at time points that spanned the longer iceberg sighting season. The GIS could then identify the location of each point, measure their distances to — and select only those points within 10 Km of — Twillingate Lighthouse, and then return only those with “May” in their temporal attribute data. Temporal mapping allows historians to consider a range of geospatial questions of their sources, but it’s also great for demonstrating patterns through basic data visualization.

In this exercise we performed a simpler form of temporal analysis (freight hauled per distance on each line). The results allowed us to focus our historical research on railways and regions that “stood out” on the map. Some of the leading firewood lines, in both real and relative amounts, were narrow gauge railways like the Toronto, Grey & Bruce. These were designed specifically to haul firewood to the growing energy markets in Ontario’s cities, so it’s no surprise that they appeared as bright red veins connecting Toronto to its hinterland. By comparing firewood to other commodities hauled on each line we see that the narrow gauge companies dedicated up to 50 percent of their freight to firewood. Others like the Whitby and Port Perry were not known as fuel trains, but they still stand out on the relative map and they actually dedicated increasing amounts to firewood in the early years (rising from 8 to 12 percent). As firewood supplies decreased and coal imports increased in Southwestern Ontario, the concentrations around Toronto disappeared from the temporal map. However, the data visualization revealed some surprising concentrations on short-haul lines connecting Eastern Ontario and Quebec cities with regions in the Canadian Shield. These will be explored in a forthcoming article.

Cordwood piled at the Port Perry Station, likely in the 1870s. Source: Toronto Railway Historical Association, “Port Perry Station”

The research required three general categories of sources, historical railway/freight statistics, historical railway GIS data, and general railway histories. We found most of the historical statistics in the Sessional Papers. The annual reports of the Canadian Minister of Railways and Canals usually contained a “Summary Statement of Description of Freight Carried” by railways in the previous year. These tables were also reproduced in the Canada Year Book, and in the later years (1900s), these were the only historical sources available to us. The historical railway GIS data, a collection of line segments representing railways built between 1836-1922, were supplied by Byron Moldofsky of the Canadian Historical GIS Partnership. However, even these require data development, technical knowledge, and collaboration to use them to their full potential. Finally, general railway histories were required to provide historical context and to fill some of the gaps that appeared when trying to match the historical statistics to the historical GIS data. As we mentioned, the historical railway/freight statistics data had many limits. This requires extensiveresearch in railway histories and other secondary sources such as Christopher Andreae’s Lines of Country (1997). In the cases where no match could be found, we had to decide whether the railways existed but failed to report their data, or whether the historical GIS files were incorrect. This is explained in the difference between “grey and white” lines in the tutorial. 

In the end this 15-second animation answered some questions and raised many others. Most interesting to us were the ways we could quickly confirm the importance of firewood lines like Toronto Grey and Bruce. However, we were surprised to see those diminish so quickly in the 1880s. We were also intrigued by how the maps identified other Toronto-area wood haulers like the Whitby and Port Perry Railway. Finally, as the next chapters of this research will explore, these maps helped reveal how new lines like J.R. Booth’s “Canada Atlantic Railway” to Ottawa, New York State, and New England created entirely new firewood supply chains in areas that would otherwise have experienced a more rapid transition from wood to coal.

Canada Atlantic Railway locomotive No. 10, in November 1886. Note the wood fuel in the tender and in the fuel car behind it. Library and Archives Canada, C-25967. Source: Colin Churcher, “Fuelled by Wood” Branchline (May 2007). p9.

*Nolan Kressin is a research assistant with the UPEI GeoREACH Lab and an undergraduate student in the Applied Climate Change and Adaptation program at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Feature Image: Cords of Firewood Hauled on Canadian Railways, 1878. Source: Sessional Papers of Canada. Map by the Authors.


Andreae, Christopher. Lines of Country: An Atlas of Railway and Waterway History in Canada. Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills Press, 1997.

Churcher, Colin. “Fuelled by Wood.” Branchline (May 2007), pp 6-9. See also Churcher, Colin. “Fuelled by Wood” Accessed 7 October 2020.

Innis, Harold. A History of the Canadian Pacific Railway. London: P.S. King, 1923. E-book on Gutenberg Accessed 7 October 2020.

Innis, Harold. The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930.

Institute for Ocean Technology, “Ice Data Project: Iceberg Sighting Database,” Accessed 7 October 2020.

Toronto Railway Historical Association, “Port Perry Station.” Accessed 7 October 2020.The following two tabs change content below.

Feed and Pasture Notes


About the Feed and Pasture Notes project

In a time without the internet, farmers could not simply google best farming practices, neither could they access new experiments and research that helped improve productivity and manage livestock. Farmers often relied on advice from other farmers in the community as well as experimentation by trial and error. Still, agricultural advice literature and other published guides flourished in the nineteenth century, particularly in newspapers, pamphlets, and other published sources of information.

A painting by George Heriot of Greenwich Park, PEI c1795
George Heriot, Greenwich Park, PEI c1795

Agricultural advice was naturally very specific to each region’s environmental and market conditions. We needed to know how early farmers in Atlantic Canada were feeding their livestock, including the historical role of pasture, hay, and marsh grasses in addition to roots and grains. The region has abundant marshlands, but also very harsh winters. How did farmers use their local environment to keep livestock fed and sheltered, and how did those practices change with changing land use and the rising demand from urban markets? To answer these questions, we created the feed and pasture project to collect historical publications that were either produced by or available to Atlantic Canadian farmers on subject of livestock husbandry and feeding.

Often they were recommendations for farmers, but sometimes they were also notices of pasture competitions/prizes, or articles about a new development such as a new community pasture opening, a new feed mill, etc. The project documents a variety of sources that shed light on the changing developments and efficiencies in the region’s livestock farm systems.

Link to all Feed and Pasture Notes

Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island


The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island, colloquially known as Meacham’s Atlas of 1880, was one of the first attempts to map PEI in its entirety. A whole host of information can be found within the atlas; from detailed maps of each of the lots on the island – down to the individual houses, to realistic drawings of prominent citizens and their properties. It is a dream resource for any Island historian!

The Meacham’s Atlas maps before mosaicing.

For us at the GeoREACH lab, the atlas represents yet another opportunity to compile data on energy usage on the island during this period. We can see in the atlas the individual lots that compose our island even to today, each with personalized property information. The cartographers went so far as to outline the individual houses, barns, other infrastructure and property owners for each lot.

The Meacham’s Atlas maps after being mosaiced.

An important step in gathering the data from Meacham’s Atlas was to centralize all the available rasters (individual images) to a single resource. As all the lots were created independently, they would have to be stitched together into a single, geographically accurate map in a process formally known as mosaicing. This is why we have made, using GIS, a comprehensive mosaic of all the lots to easier represent this information.

The building points displayed over the entirety of Prince Edward Island.

Beyond that, we also entered data points for the over 16,000 buildings indicated on the map. Though it is still a work in progress, it is now available to be explored. You can adjust the different layers through the content window to look at churches, houses, mills, or schools, or can zoom in to a region you know well to see what it looked like in 1880!

Click here to explore the map.

Welcome to the GeoREACH Lab Website


Land Use in Wheatley River, PEI (1935)

Welcome! The GeoREACH Lab supports Geospatial Research in Atlantic Canadian History and other projects of the Applied, Communications, Leadership & Culture program in the Faculty of Arts at University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). The lab is directed by Dr. Josh MacFadyen, an environmental historian and Canada Research Chair in Geospatial Humanities at UPEI.

The Lab’s current projects focus on the history of food and agriculture in Canada, and we study the ways that the modern food system has shaped our relationships with animals and the land. Prince Edward Island was a relative late adapter of modern industrial agriculture, and in many ways it is still going through this profound social-ecological transition. This presents an opportunity to interview, map, and otherwise study the causes and impacts of agro-ecosystem transformation in one place over time.

We hope you will check out the About page keep watching this site for ongoing information on the research we are doing at UPEI.

Night Drifts into Silence As Wind And Rain Quiets

“There’s so much to be said in favour of a fall-night like this” the orange Curiosity-cat offers now from the couch… The night hangs dim without though not without [sic] some promise of moon-light.

“Yes” he continues, “it’s not that I don’t enjoy the warm summery ones, but for pure coziness indoors, you can’t beat a night like this! The fire burns cheerly, the kettle sings. And the folks gathered about, glad  to be in to the warmth.” The old clock on the shelf ticks away the minutes solemnly. James in his armchair turns the sheets of his newspaper, the sound a rustle in the silence. At the table, Granddaughter is lost in a textbook.

With the doors closed against the chill, we think with some longing of the springtime with its new beginnings: of bright warming days and a fresh blue in the heavens of the songbirds’ trills, of the red fields of the cropping, and the first flowerings we so love.

Silently, extremely quiet this night is: the calm after storm [sic]. The peace of silence after a spell of tossing boughs and rain. “There is likely to be frost in the low-lying places by dawn” a weather forecast observes. If so, it will be bound to take a toll of our [sic] flowers in passin this place “Down by the old millstream.” the profusion of bloom which was the gift of this strangely mixed up summer.

“There!” Granddaughter says closing her bok [sic] smartly. “That’s the end of that!… What will we have to finish off our day? She appeals with a chuckle to her grandfather.

“An apple perhaps?” she suggests.

He shakes his head.

“No. That’s ‘lead at night’. “Oh let’s have a piece of toast and…” “…apple jelly and tea? So be it!” she nods.”

                                                                                      –  Ellen’s diary, October 16th, 1962.


Molasses for Mixing with the Feed

Every now and then molasses as a feed for dairy cows gets a great boost in certain districts. Usually a “full-of-pep” salesman starts the ball a⋅rolling in order that he may roll in orders. When this is the origin, the molasses is usually combined with other feeds. In not a few cases these other feeds have consisted very largely of oat hulls the molasses is usually combined with other feeds. In not a few cases these other feeds have consisted very largely of oat hulls the molasses being added merely to  make the feed palatable enough that the cattle will eat it with avidity. There have also been a goodly number of splendid feed mixtures that have contained molasses but it necessary [sic] to examine very carefully any molasses feed offered for sale. The value of such feed is more easily determined now than a few years ago, as Federal legislation now requires that all feeds be sold under a guaranteed analysis. Cane sugar molasses, which, by the way, is the only kind of molasses that can be fed safely in large quantities, may be purchased in its pure form by the barrel. It contains 50 per cent of sugar and 12 per cent of gum. The sugar is equivalent in feeding value to the scratch of corn, and the gums are protein substances. From the standpoint of chemical analysis, molasses is about the equal ton for ton of corn. It has additional value however, in that, being very palatable, it can be used to make a dry ration tasty. It has a special value, therefore, on dairy farms where there is no silo and few roots.

We have frequently used it in feeding timothy hay and oat straw, diluting it to twice its bulk with water and sprinkling over the roughage. It has a disadvantage that the whole stable gets sticky and stable work may even become disagreeable.

Another disadvantage is that, when the molasses is removed or runs down, it takes the cows some time to get back to eating dry roughage without the molasses and in the meantime, there will be a decided shrinkage in the milk flow. Molasses is held in high favor by some showmen for preparing animals for the ring or sale. This is probably because of it palatability [sic] inducing large consumption of the feeding substances with which it is mingled. We would advise however, against feeding too large quantities to breeding animals as it is apt to lead steridity.

– Molasses for Mixing with the Feed, Guardian. February 24, 1923, p13.


The Chilling Breath of Fall

“Fall or the chilling breath of it, came to Alderiea this morning. Not in any blackened pumpkin vines nor in frosted stortions. On the contrary each seasonal plant and flower was enjoying the sunlight, that cast entrancing shadows across the kitchen. ‘Strange” James remarked “that we don’t get a nip of frost one of these nights”. “Remarkable, I call it considering the time of the year” I replied I placed the two chairs nearer the table, fetched the tea pot so there would be no need of rising to get it, and we were ready then for breakfast.

It was not however in any of these usual “outward and visible signs” that I found the approach of Fall. But hunters came this morning. Two of them, shortly after the twilight of daybreak with guns, the sight of which made Pard protest so loudly that James came down-stairs to investigate, his socks in his hand. The hunting season had come to succeed the fishing one recently closed.”

– Ellen’s Diary, October 2, 1946.



“Dairymen who bring their cows to the highest stage of production during winter months must aim at imitating summer conditions. This is more easily said than done. During late spring and early summer the dairy herd reaches the highest production, and the quality of the product is superior to that of other seasons. Luxuriant pasture gives abundance of feed which is considered to be nearly a balanced ration. Grass is both succulent and palatable and in securing it cows receive exercise in a moderate temperature. Dairymen who are in position to furnish these conditions secure the maximum profit from their herds during the times they must be confined to the stable and fed on stored feed. Any kind of feed will not produce milk in paying quantities. The demands on the animal system must be met before feed can be converted into milk and butter fat. Milk is high in protein, therefore feeds containing this nutrient in large quantities are necessary. Carbohydrates and fat are also required and the relationship existing between these feeds should be around one of protein to five or six carbohydrates. Wider rations are fed, but cows on heavy production require that the rations be somewhat narrower. The amount of feed must be sufficient to maintain the system, over that amount is left for production. However, the cow is so constituted that for a time she will produce even when kept on a maintenance ration by drawing on stored up material in her body. This cannot go on indefinitely. The cow gradually loses in flesh, then the milk yield drops.

The dairy cow is a highly organized manufacturing plant which turns out food ready for consumption. The digestive system is her engine and on it demands to a large extent profits from the plants. The feed consumed furnishes fire to generate power to keep her going and working. The cow bears a close analogy to a steam engine. Fuel must be supplied to generate steam to start the wheels turning. Wood, coal, gasoline, etc., of different qualities, comprise the different kinds of material which are in use. If it is of poor quality the fireman has difficulty in keeping up steam. The water may heat but not enough steam will generate to run the plant to capacity. Consequently, the greatest profit is not made. In factories steam is generated under pressure so that the machinery can do its work. The best fuel is used to keep the fires burning. It is claimed that it only requires a little extra fuel to generate steam under pressure than it does to produce a small amount, but more work is accomplished per pound of fuel. The same may be applied to dairy cows. A small amount of poor-grade feed may maintain the animal, but will produce but [sic] little milk. Increase the ration and if the cow is of right quality the production will be increased. Two or three pounds extra of concentrates may increase the milk yield ten or fifteen pounds. The engine must be big enough for the work it is required to do, and the diary cow  must also have the capacity and quality of digestion in order to be profitable. Too many cows have not the capacity nor machinery to make them profitable manufactures and on the other hand some that have both are deprived of the right kind of fuel and raw material by their owner. The cow which gives the largest returns in milk and butterfat for the feed consumed is the most profitable. However, an abundance of feed will not make a good cow out of a poor one. The mechanism or blood of the animal plays a large part.

The cow is equipped to handle a large amount of roughage. Under normal conditions this is the cheap part of ration. Concentrates are more expensive, but it usually pays to add a certain amount of them to the roughage the cow eats. The amount may be regulated by the milk yield. The coarse feed or roughages should be grown on the farm and if any feed must be purchased let it be concentrates.  Clover or alfalfa hay and corn silage make ideal coarse feeds for the dairy cow. These feeds will produce a fair flow of milk without grains. Alfalfa cannot be grown on all soils but red clover and corn do well over a wide area. Silage adds succulence to the ration and aids in making dry feeds, as straw, more palatable. Roots are a feed which is being displaced somewhat by sillage, but they still have a place in the ration. There is more value in this succulent feed than analyses show.

While most of the feed is grown on the farm, it is advisable to follow a standard when compiling a ration. It may pay to sell some grains grown, and purchase feeds higher in protein in order to balance the ration so that the best use can be made of all nutrients fed. With an unbalanced feed there is more or less loss of some of the nutrients fed. Each must bear a certain relationship to the other for most profitable production. The protein content is the most expensive to fill. The table on another page giving digestible nutrients of various feeds, gives some idea of their value for producing milk or meat.

About 7.925 pounds of digestible nutrients are required daily by 1,000. lb Cow for maintenance only, and of this .7 pounds should be digestible protein. About 30 pounds should be digestible protein. About 30 pounds of silage and 10 pounds of straw would supply enough carbohydrates, but would be .3 pounds short of protein. If 8 pounds of clover hay are used instead of straw, the maintenance requirements would be about met. A cow must be fed more than this quantity in order to produce milk. In fact at no stage should a cow be kept on so small a ration. Ife she is not milking, she is usually carrying a calf, in the majority of cases being both, therefore the demand on her system is great. The nutritive value of various feeds is shown in the table and where two or more are nearly equal the dairyman would be influenced mostly by the market value. Sometimes the highest priced feeds are the cheapest in the end, as a small quantity seems to bring the ration to the required amount. In this class are cottonseed meal, linseed meal brewers’ grains, peas, malt sprouts, gluten meal, etc. These are high in protein which is the most expensive substance required by dairy cow but a feed they cannot get along without. They require it in large quantities than other classes of stock.Mineral matter, as time and phosphorous, is required in milk production, but this substance is provided for legume hay. Where the roughage is composed principally of timothy hay, wild grass, and corn stover, much greater quantities of concentrates are required than if clover or alfalfa hay are available. For economical feeding, dairymen should endeavor to grow plenty of clover hay. They then producs [sic] milk on the minimum amount of expensive concentrates.

All cows are not of the same temperament. Some put the extra feel on their backs instead of in the pail. On this account a study should be made of the requirements of the individual animal. In the best bred herds, cows vary in their productive ability, therefore to obtain greatest profit, records should be kept of both milk and feed, and tests made occasionally to ascertain if it would pay to increase or decrease the grain. The cow should have all the good quality roughage she wants but the grain may be regulated but the grain may be regulated by her production. The following feeding standard based on rations which have given excellent results in practive, [sic] is taken from Henry’s “Feed and Feeding.” As previously stated, a 1,000 lb cow requires .7lbs. Digestible protein and a total of 7.925 pounds digestible nutrients for her maintenance to this should be added 0.286 pound digestible nutrients, of which .047 pounds are protein, for each pound of 3.5 per cent. Milk .316 and .049 must be added respectively, and .054 pounds. This would make the total nutrients required by a cow giving 50 pounds of 3.5 per cent. Milk, 23.72 pounds. A rule followed by some dairy men is to feed about one pound of concentrates per day for each pound of concentrates per day for each pound of butter-fat given the week. Thus a cow making 14 pounds of butter a week would be fed 14 pounds of concentrates daily in addition to the roughage she requires. When whole milk is marketed, a rule is to feed one pound of concentrates per day for each four pounds of milk produced. According to this a cow giving 50 pounds of milk per day would require 1212 pounds of concentrate, made up grains and mill feeds, to balance the ration. These rules are only approximate. Keeping records of feed and milk and doing a little experimenting is the preferable method. Each dairyman must study the individual cows in his herd. the feed which gives best results with one may not prove so satisfactory with and ther. [sic] Balanced rations containing the proper proportions of the different nutrients can be made up from a great variety of feeds. Therefore, the dairyman should first consider what he is growing on the farm and if necessary purchase those concentrates which furnish most protein. When grain is scarce brewers’ grains, linseed meal, cottonseed meal. Etc. An increased amount of clover and alfalfa hay may be used. With grains plentiful. But shortage of hay, silage and straw could form the bulk of the roughage, and the proportion of grain increased. In certain districts dairymen are getting very good results this fall feeing silage and alfalfa hay. Of course their cows might do better if fed some concentrates, but in order to be profitable, the mill: yield would have to increase sufficiently to pay for  the extra feed , which would have to be purchased on the open market. Silage 30 lbs., roots 40lbs., straw 5lbs., clover hay 8lbs., brewers’ grain 3lbs., bran 4 lbs., makes a fairly good ration, but a trifle short on the dry matter. Roots are not always available and the home-grown grains may be plentiful. Therefore a ration with a nutritive ratio of 1:62 is made with silage 40 lbs., clover hay 5lbs., oat chop 2lbs barley 1lb., bran 1lb., and oil cake 2lbs. For a cow giving 40lbs. Of milk per day the following gives fairly good satisfaction: silage 40 lbs., hay 10lbs., oat straw 4lbs., cottonseed meal, or oil cake meal 2lbs., bran 4lbs., oats 3lbs., and barley 2lbs. A ration with a nutritive ratio of about 1:5.8 is complied with silage 30lbs alfalfa hay 12lbs., mangles 20lbs., oat chop 5lbs., barley meal 3lbs. For heavy production, about a pound of oil cake per day might profitably be added.

Feeding a balanced ration is not in itself sufficient for profitable production. The cow must be made comfortable, which will require that she be housed in a well ventilated stable, during the winter, where the temperature will range around fifty degrees F. The stable must be kept clean and the feeds kept as clean as possible and prepared in such a way that they will be palatable. The cow in milk requires a large quantity of water daily. Salt in the ration is also essential. Some fed twice a day others three times a day, with about equal results. Feeding and milking should be done at a stated time each day, as the cow soon forms the habit of wanting her feed at a certain time whether it is two or three times a day and if the regular hours are not adhered to the dairyman suffers by a decrease in the production. Combined with good feed and attention must go kindly treatment. [sic] The cow that is treated roughly will not give the same quality of milk as she would were she handled in a gentle manner.”

– Feeding the Diary Cows for Most Profitable Return, Guardian December 2, 1916, p9.