Growing Feed Stuffs On The Farm
Economy in raising live stock demands the production of all "roughness"
or roughage materials on the farm. By roughness, or roughage, of course
you understand that bulky food, like hay, grass, clover, stover, etc.,
is meant. It is possible to purchase all roughage materials and yet make
a financial success of growing farm animals, but this certainly is not
the surest way to succeed. Every farm should raise all its feed stuffs.
In deciding what forage and grain crops to grow we should decide:
1. The crops best suited to our soil and climate.
2. The crops best suited to our line of business.
3. The crops that will give us the most protein.
4. The crops that produce the most.
5. The crops that will keep our soil in the best condition.
1. _The crops best suited to our soil and climate._ Farm crops, as every
child of the farm knows, are not equally adapted to all soils and
climates. Cotton cannot be produced where the climate is cool and the
seasons short. Timothy and blue grass are most productive on cool,
limestone soils. Cowpeas demand warm, dry soils. But in spite of
climatic limitations, Nature has been generous in the wide variety of
forage she has given us.
Our aim should be to make the best use of what we have, to improve by
selection and care those kinds best adapted to our soil and climate, and
to secure, by better methods of growing and curing, the greatest yields
at the least possible cost.
2. _The crops best suited to our line of business._ A farmer necessarily
becomes more or less of a specialist; he gathers those kinds of live
stock about him which he likes best and which he finds the most
profitable. He should, on his farm, select for his main crops those that
he can grow with the greatest pleasure and with the greatest profit.
The successful railroad manager determines by practical experience what
distances his engines and crews ought to run in a day, what coal is most
economical for his engines, what schedules best suit the needs of his
road, what trains pay him best. These and a thousand and one other
matters are settled by the special needs of his road.
Ought the man who wants to make his farm pay be less prudent and less
far-sighted? Should not his past failures and his past triumphs decide
his future? If he be a dairy farmer, ought he not by practical tests to
settle for himself not only what crops are most at home on his land but
also what crops in his circumstances yield him the largest returns in
milk and butter? If swine-raising be his business, how long ought he to
guess what crop on his land yields him the greatest amount of hog food?
Should a colt be fed on one kind of forage when the land that produced
that forage would produce twice as much equally good forage of another
kind? All these questions the prudent farmer should answer promptly and
in the light of wise experiments.
3. _The crops that will give us the most protein._ It is the farmer's
business to grow all the grass and forage that his farm animals need. He
ought never to be obliged to purchase a bale of forage. Moreover, he
should grow mainly those crops that are rich in protein materials, for
example, cowpeas, alfalfa, and clover. If such crops are produced on the
farm, there will be little need of buying so much cotton-seed meal,
corn, and bran for feeding purposes.
4. _The crops that produce the most._ We often call a crop a crop
without considering how much it yields. This is a mistake. We ought to
grow, when we have choice of two crops, the one that is the best and the
most productive on the farm. Average corn, for instance, yields on an
acre at least twice the quantity of feeding-material that timothy does.
5. _The crops that will keep our soil in the best condition._ A good
farmer should always be thinking of how to improve his soil. He wants
his land to support him and to maintain his children after he is dead.
Since cowpeas, clover, and alfalfa add atmospheric nitrogen to the soil
and at the same time are the best feeding-materials, it follows that
these crops should hold an important place in every system of
crop-rotation. By proper rotating, by proper terracing, and by proper
drainage, land may be made to retain its fertility for generations.
1. Why are cowpeas, clover, and alfalfa so important to the farmer?
2. What is meant by the protein of a food?
3. Why is it better to feed the farm crops to animals on the farm
rather than to sell these crops?