Animal Husbandry

For young cattle, oats is an excellent mixture to feed with barley. Cattle that are by no means mature are adding bone and muscle to their bodies, in which oats as a feed will play an important part. Adding muscle means adding lean meat, which is highly desirable. 

In fattening more mature cattle, wheat, or wheat screenings, makes a good addition to barley chop. Screenings can usually be purchased at a price which makes them profitable feed. Wheat, where grown in any quantity, will only be fed when the selling price is low enough to warrant it.

Barley is higher in carbohydrates, but lower in fat, than oats; they are about equal in protein, but oats have more fibre, as the hull is thick and. longer. An average analysis of several samples of oats and barley made by the Dominion Experimental Farms gave the following results: Oats, protein 11.73 per cent.; carbohydrates 60.94 per cent, and fat 4.36 per cent; barley, protein 12.13 per cent, carbohydrates 64.49 per cent, and fat 1.71 per cent. Oats would contain about 10 per cent of fibre and barley about 46 per cent. In the case of wheat it will vary a good deal, but a fair average would be protein 12.4 per cent, carbohydrates 71.2 per cent and fat 2.1 per cent, while wheat screenings would run about, protein 13.3 carbohydrates 61.1, and fat 4.1. Wheat screanings [sic] would contian [sic] about 7.4 per cent of fibre, while wheat would show only about 2.2 per cent. Corn, by way of comparison, will average protein 9.4 per cent, carbohydrates 66.1 percent. and fat 4.7 percent with only about 1.9 per cent of fibre.

Linseed meal will not only provide protein for the development of lean meat, but it will add to the healthfulness, the digestibility, and the palatability of the ration. But pulp, which is a splendid conditioner for feeder cattle acts as a sort of tonic ,and when feeding it the grain ration may be increased as the cattle have good appetites. Beet pulp is low in protein, however, and alfalfa hay, if at all available, should be fed with it. If this can not be secured a small amount of cotton-seed meal would greatly improve the ration for young cattle of this kind. Cottonseed meal would be preferable to linseed meal if fed with beet pulp, as it is not so laxative and is higher in protein.

These analysis are always interesting and form a fairly good guide in feeding, but by no means a positive one. The effects of different kinds of feed upon animals cannot be wholly determined by analysis but must be worked out in actual practice, through which the feeder  finally determines what is best to use. That is what makes it so necessary to experiment with feeds and to study the animals that are being fed. The feeder must have a  basis to begin on, gleaned from the experience of others, and then he must determine many things by his own judgment and practice. 

We might deal first with the feeding of weaned calves, brought off the range and put up in feed lots to be finished for the following Spring market. These calves would be six to seven months old, and weigh rom [sic] 350 to 450 lbs. They would be carrying the milk fat from following their mothers, and care should be taken to see that they lose as little as possible in the change to the feed lot. 

Calves such 6g these should be conveyed as directly as possible feeding ground. They should be closed in the feed yard and not allowed to wander about and lose flesh.If shut up in reasonably close quarters, the company of the other calves seems to compensate in some respect for the separation from their mothers, and so they fret less. 

Abundance of palatable feed, however, will be much greater compensation for them and will keep them going right ahead. 

There is no better initial ration for such calves, when first shut in than whole oats and good alfalfa or mlxcd clover hay. These calves have been feeding on milk and grass, two of the most easily digested feeds, and they must not have too strong a grain ration to begin with, or their stomachs may be upset. They must also have a nourishing ration, and whole oats seem to be peculiarly adapted to the food requirements of young cattle.

Well cured alfalfa hay is always relished by cattle, and calves will attack it with avidity and so will secure the amount of good, nourishing feed they require when coming off milk and grass. In feeding alfalfa it is a good plan to have some other clover hay to use for every third feed, which keeps the cattle keener for the alfalfa and gives greater variety.

As regards grain feed for calves off the range, the following ratio may be worthy of note:

2 lbs. each of whole oats per day fed in two feed for the first 4 or 5 days.

2 lbs. each of whole oats and 1lb. crushed oats per day, fed in two feeds, for the next 8 or 10 days.

4 lbs. each crushed oats per day, fed in two feeds, until the end of the third week from the commencement of feeding.

Add 1lb. Each of crushed barley or wheat to the fore-going ration for the fourth week and then double the barley or wheat in the feed.

You are now feeding 4 lbs. crushed oats and 2 lbs. either crushed barley or wheat per day to each calf, making a grain ration of 6 lbs. each per day.

At the end of two months the grain ration may be increased to 7 lbs. per day and two weeks later to 8 lbs. per day.

The 8 lbs. of meal would consist of 4 lbs. of oats and 4 lbs. of barley or wheat, fed, o course, [sic] in two feeds of 4 lbs. each

This ration might be later increased by the addition of 2 lbs. more of barley or wheat, making a daily ration of 10 lbs., 4 lbs. of cats and 6 lbs. of barley or wheat. In this case the addition of ground oil cake, as suggested in the following paragraph, would be desirable.

If these calves are fed alfalfa for roughage they will get the necessary protein for young growing animals, but if mixed hay, or green oat sheaves, are used, it would be advisable to add to the foregoing grain ration about 1-2lb. linseed meal when the grain ration reaches 6 lbs. per day and increase it to 1-2 lbs. when the cattle are consuming 8lbs. of meal each per day, and 2 lbs. when 10 lbs. of meal is fed.

– Animal Husbandry, The Charlottetown Guardian. May 8, 1935, p 8.


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.



“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.


Simple and Easy Method of Making Hay

Instead of allowing the hay to lie for some days in the swathe after it is cut, putting it up into cocks, spreading it out, and then tedding it in the sun, which tends greatly to bleach the hay, exhales its natural juices, and subjects it very much to the danger of getting rain, and thus runs a great risk of benign made for little, I made it a general rule, never to cut hay but when the grass is dry; and then make the gatherers follow close upon the cutters, putting it up immediately into small cocks about three feet high each, and of as small a diameter as they can be made to stand with; always giving each of them a slight kind of thatching, by drawing a few handfuls of the hay from the bottom of the cock all around, and laying it lightly upon the top, with one of the ends hanging downward. 

In these cocks, I allow the hay to remain, until, upon inspection, which is usually one or two weeks. These small cocks are lifted by two men, each with an extended pitchfork, to where the tramp cock is to be built. And in this manner, they proceed over the field till the whole is finished. If the hay is to be carried to any considerable distance this process can be greatly abridged,  by causing the carriers to take two long sticks, and having laid them down by the small cocks, parallel to one another, at the distance of  about two feet asunder, let them lift three or four cocks one after another, and place them carefully above the sticks, and then all together, as if upon a hand barrow, to the place where the large rick is to be built.

The advantages that attend this method of making hay are, that it greatly abridges the labour; as it does not require as much of the work that is necessary in the old method of turning and tedding it; that it allows the hay to continue almost as green as when it is cut, and preserves its natural juices; And, lastly, that it is secured from the possibility of being damaged by rain. This last circumstance deserves to be much more attended to by the farmers; as I have seen few who are aware of the loss that the quality of their hay sustains by receiving a shower after it is cut, and before it is gathered; If these gentlemen will take the trouble, at any time, to compare any parcel of hay that has been made perfectly dry, with another parcel from the same field, that has received a shower while in the swathe, or even a copious dew, they will soon be sensible of a very manifest difference between them; nor will their horses or cattle ever commit a mistake in choosing between the two. 

                                        – Simple and Easy Method of Making Hay, August 12, 1791


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