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pounds of hay will be enough at each feed, and four pounds at night, which makes fourteen pounds in the twenty-four hours. The cows should get water twice a day. No mention is here made of lucerne, mangelwurzel, rape, cabbages, or rye-grass, all of which are used for stall-feeding; but they are each spoken of under their respective heads.
In soiling, the cattle should always have abundance of good water, and a careful person should be appointed to attend to them, and supply them with fresh food regularly. Vetches or rape, sown at different times, to be cut in succession when the clover fails or becomes over-ripe, are highly useful, as the dairy cows will otherwise fall off in milk. In Holland, the cows fed in the house are supplied with water mixed with oil-cake, rye, or oatmeal; and they are allowed a supply of salt, which conduces to their health, and improves the quality and increases the quantity of the milk.
All the straw produced on the farm belongs of right to the cattle, and where turnips and other green food are provided, it is chiefly used for bedding. The additional quantity of straw which will be raised on the farm, by means of the increased quantity of manure obtained from the cattle, will keep pace with the number of animals, and provide the bedding required for the stock.
Some well-informed people have estimated the quantity of ground necessary to supply food for a cow, the year round, at only half an acre ; and the late Mr. Cobbett said that a quarter of an acre would be sufficient; but it may not be safe to rely altogether upon either of these estimates. It is nevertheless certain, that stallfeeding may be practised with great advantage to the farmer, and more especially to the small farmer; and how wrong is it therefore to allow two or three acres of land to be wasted in grazing one animal in summer, and to have her pining all the winter upon hay and straw? In fact, the farmer would profit more by his cows, if he fed them upon green food in the house, paying a fair rent for the land, than if he kept them in the usual way upon grass, hay, and straw, and got the land for nothing
The cows, when kept in the house, must be carefully curried and cleaned, which is absolutely essential to the animals' health, and will materially increase the quantity of milk. Too much pains cannot be taken in this respect. All stall-fed cattle should, in fact, be dressed and curried as carefully as a favourite horse. You cannot handle and familiarize your milch-cows too much, or treat them too kindly; and, indeed, the same may be said of all your cattle.
Do not allow the chaff of the corn to be lost. If the cows are confined to dry food, at any time, the change from grass or green crops is apt to affect them; the dung gets dry, the coat stares, and from the costive state of the bowels diseases ensue, which sometimes end in the death of the animal. Now chaff is the best remedy in such cases, if well boiled and mixed with potatoes mashed, and some seeds or bran to make it palatable. A bushel given in this way, night and morning, will open the bowels, make the skin look sleek and healthy, and increase the quantity of milk. When corn chaff cannot be had, the chaff of hay or straw may be substituted. The mixture should be of a consistency to be easily stirred about with the hand. A greater quantity of potatoes may be given with advantage in this way, than in any other; but they must be boiled separately, for potato-water is injurious to cattle. The mixture is improved by some Swedish turnips, which may be boiled with the chaff.
Bean haulm, and any kind of hay or straw, will serve for being cut into chaff, for horses and cows and cattle. Given in this shape, it greatly economizes the food, and is good for the health of the animals. With a chaff-cutting machine, the labour of preparing the chaff is trifling.
It may perhaps be imagined by some persons, that cows will give more milk when pastured in the field, than when fed in the house. This is altogether erroneous, for the less fatigue a cow has to undergo, in obtaining her food, the more milk will she yield; and the practice of leaving cows out in cold nights, or exposing them in summer to the heat and flies by day, is certainly injurious. In mild weather they may perhaps
be left out, if unavoidable, without injury: but whenever circumstances admit, let the provender or grass be carried home, and given to the milch-cows within doors, leaving the young stock to pasture in the fields.
It has been estimated that the manure of one cow, fed and littered in the house, is sufficient to top-dress an acre of land; whereas the dung of cattle, if left upon the grass, is injurious; for it prevents all growth for a time, and afterwards raises tufts of coarse herbage, which cattle will not eat. The greater portion of the dung dropped in the fields, goes off in evaporation, and is totally lost; and grubs and flies are generated in and under it whilst it remains : but if it were collected, and spread at the proper season, it would improve the vegetation, and impart fertility to the soil.
In Switzerland, in very elevated situations, where corn does not ripen, the Swiss farmers, who depend chiefly upon the produce of their cows, have the finest cattle, owing to the care taken in crossing the breeds, and attending to the dressing and feeding of them regularly within doors. Land which would, from its steepness, be only pastured by sheep or goats in this country, is there irrigated, or top-dressed, and constantly mowed, to feed the cattle in the house, where they are regularly supplied with fresh grass ; and the quantity of dung thus obtained, for top-dressing the grass lands in the spring, keeps them in a high state of fertility. The same practice prevails in the flat countries of Belgium and Holland; and these are examples well worthy of being followed by the British farmer.
Weeds are the farmer's plague, all lands being more or less infested with them. They are of three kindsannual, biennial, and perennial. The first live only for one year, and are easily destroyed by fallowing and hoeing in summer. Care must be taken, however, that the operation is not delayed so long as to allow them
to shed their seed, or even run to flower, which impoverishes the land. The biennials must be cut off repeatedly, and from time to time, as they successively spring up, and be thus prevented from seeding, by which means they may be speedily got rid off. But perennials are more difficult to eradicate, for merely cutting them off as they show themselves above ground, is not sufficient. Nothing, in short, but repeated ploughings, and picking off the roots by the hand, with a fallow, or succession of fallow crops, will effectually clear the land of perennial weeds.
Thistles are biennial, and may be destroyed by cutting them just above ground, three or four times each season; or they may be pulled up by hand, or with weeding tongs, with which a boy will pull a large heap in a day. It is better even to destroy a little corn, by sending children into it to cut or pull up the thistles, than to leave them to gain strength, and shed their seed.
Ferns, are destroyed by repeated mowing, especially if done early in the season, before they come into full leaf: but if there is any useless patch of broken ground on the farm, the ferns may be allowed to grow on it for litter or bedding for the cattle and horses. Ferns may thus be made a useful substitute for straw, and when so used, they also form a strong and durable manure.
Docks, must be dug out by a long, narrow, doublepronged spade. With such an instrument, used for an hour or two each day of July and August, before they come into seed, you might in two or three seasons eradicate every dock from your farm.
Ragweed, is a biennial, and must be destroyed by cutting before it comes into flower; one head, if allowed to seed, will sow a whole field. The old maxim, that,
“One year's seeding
Makes nine years' weeding," being verified in this, as in most other kinds of weeds.
Knot-grass, or Switch, or Scutch, can only be effectually gotten rid of by hand-picking; and even when the last harrowing is given after sowing, or the potato and turnip drills are formed, women and children should be employed to go over the ground with baskets, if it be at all infested with this very troublesome weed, and pick up the small pieces that may have been left, as every bit will grow.
Spurry, though only an annual, is a most pernicious weed, and destroys young clover by choking it when the plants are tender. It is to be got rid of by lime, and resting the land for two or three years in grass, or by having recourse to hand-picking and hoeing. This weed is generally observed in over-cropped lands.
Charlock, or Wild Mustard, is a great infester of corn land, and is seen everywhere spreading its bright yellow flower early in the summer. There is no way of getting rid of it but by hand-weeding; and when the corn is about a foot high, women and children should be sent into the field to pull up every root of the charlock, taking care to trample the corn as little as possible; and this should be repeated as often as the weed appears. By persevering in this course, you will at length conquer the enemy, and secure clean crops.
Crowfoot, and Sheep's Mascorn. The same rule holds for eradicating these weeds as are above given for knot-grass,-hand-weeding is the only remedy, and the smallest bit ought to be picked off; for in a single year it will form a strong plant, and choke your crop, and make the weeding next year doubly difficult.
Not only ought the weeds in the arable lands to be attended to, but those in the grass land and hedges should also be carefully extirpated; for their seeds are carried by every breeze over the neighbouring fields, and your labour will be useless unless you cut down every thistle, dock, and rag-weed plant, as soon as they come into flower or before. Not a weed should be allowed to appear in any part of your farm, to steal nourishment from the soil; and then the whole of its powers will be applied to the support of the crops.