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to produce it, was as well understood a half centuary ago as it is today, and so it was with the external characteristics of hide and hair, with fineness of bony structure, etc., which indicate the superior quality of flesh in the living animal, as well as the kindly grower and feeder.
There has, therefore, been no change in reference to the real facts and conditions which constitute our standard of excellence within the last half century. The standards which fashions have established have no reference whatever to these facts, which indicate useful and profitable excellence; on the contrary, like most other decrees of fashion, they are arbitrary and capricious.
The fashion which fixed its stamp upon all the stock bred by particular dividuale has been the most influential in inflating prices of the favorite sort, while depressing the values of other strains, and that without the slightest regard to individual merit. It was a very simple standard, requiring no intelligence or skill to apply or comprehend it. It had also the advantage of enabling the breeder to dispose of every animal of the prescribed pedigree, the interior as well as the good. But for the same reason its tendency was to deteriorate the breed, as in practice there was no "weeding out” of the inferior animals.
In Ohio we have only felt the indirect influence of this mania occasioned by this abaurd fashion. Our breeders have not been carried away with it; and have only selected from these fashionable strains, when they believed they were getting good animals. We have also endeavored to keep up the excellence of our old standard sorts with good, sound blood and profitable excellence.
As a consequence of this wise and judicious practice, it is safe to say that Ohio Shorthorns of to-day will compare favorably in purity of blood and characteristic excellence of the race with those of any other State.
As the constitution declare3, the purpose of this association is, to “maintain and encourage sound principles and practice in breeding, with a view to producing the most perfect cattle tbat shall yield the highest profit, and to aid in the general diffusion of such stock for the improvement of the common cattle of the country.” This is a broad and catholic view of the subject, and in its spirit we should strive to stimulate improvement in our respective neighborhoods by our practice as well as by our teaching.
In reference to this most important work of improving the character of the cattle upon our farms, there is a general and wide prevailing error that is a serious hindrance in our way; I mean the common assumption that cattle for the production of beef cannot be profitably reared from calfhood, and especially that young steers of the ages of, say eighteen months to three years, may be purchased cheaper than they can be reared.
In consequence of the prevalence of this opinion, but few of our most intelligent and well-to-do farmers breed the steers they graze and feed for the markets, the stock they handle being mostly bred by people of small means, that can scarcely be expected to avail themselves of the benefits of the superior blood.
In this respect the example of the large farmer is most unfavorable to improvement in his neighborhood. The reasoning of his less fortunate neighbor will be this: “Here is Mr. A., a man of intelligence and large means; why don't he buy your good stock and raise the blooded steers for himself, instead of buying scrub steers of his neighbors or Texas scallawags in Cincinnati and Chicago ?” The argument seems to have great force, and we repeat the interrogatory, “Why not rear your own steers, or a major part of them ?”
While we know that, as a rule, men will not prize the opportunity for making money merely for the benefit of the general welfare, 1 insist that this practice of buying these inferior and unprofitable animals by graziers and feeders is a practice that requires only the collection and publication of undeniable facts to cause its general discontinuance.
The uniform testimony of experience is directly against the assumption that there is no profit to be derived from handling stoc < during the first months of its existence-that, as a matter of fact, the gain made by the calf after it is taken from the cow is greater in proportion to the food consumed during the first month than the second, and greater during the first year than the second, the profit continuing gradually to diminish as age advances.
To illustrate this, I give the following example, taken from an article of Mr. George Geddes in the last number of the Country Gentlemen :
“Uncle Abe was the name given to a steer that was born on the 19th day of October, 1864, in Orange county, New York. At birth he weighed 134 pounds; at ninety days old he weighed 355 pounds, having gained 251 pounds. At one hundred aud eighty days old he weighed 670 pounds, gaining 285 pounds. At one year old he weighed 1,0:36 pounds, having gained 366 pounds, the whole gain in the year being 902 pounds; the first six months giving 536 pounds against 366 pounds the last half of the year. At eighteen months old •he weigbed 1,354 pounds; at two years old he weighed 1,616 pounds; at three years old he weighed 2,070 pounds; at four years old he weighed 2,360 pounds. The increase of food given was very great as the animal increased in age, and his rate of growth constantly fell off until it was only 290 pounds for the last year of his lifeonly five pounds more than he gained in ninety days before he was six mon. hs old."
At the age of twenty months a half-bred steer may easily be brought to the weight of 1,100 pounds or more, and this with nothing more than good ordinary feeding and management, and such as I think will sell for from $40 to $50. Two years ago I knew a lot of steers of this age to sell in Kentucky for an average of $55 per head.
Instead, therefore, of its being true that there is no profit in the early period of growth, there is, in fact, more in that than in any later period.
How, then, are we to account for the fact that enterprising farmers who have means will not rear their own cattle, and that so many of them prefer to buy an inferior sort? I answer, because too many of these enterprising farmers are not in the habit of calculating the comparative profits of different methods, and are, therefore, ignorant of the profit there is in a good calf as compared with an inferior three year old, or, in fact, a three year old of any kind. But, by far, the more general reason is the desire of the farmer to realize as soon as possible, and the hope that perhaps prices may advance between the time of buying and selling, so that he may make a spéculation on the investment. Waiting for the calf to grow up is a slow business, and he must take a nearer cut. He is, therefore, forced to buy such as he can get.
Unquestionably, the legitimate and, on the whole, the most economical system is for the farmer to rear the stock he grazes and feeds. It avoids the profits of unnecessary middle men, and in a large degree avoids the infectious or contagious diseases. It is the “bunching up” and gathering of stock from all parts of the country to feed that spreads the Texas fever, hog cholera, etc. Besides all this, it is well known that home bred stock feed more kindly than that which we pick up—that has been subject to different conditions.
Except under a system of what is called high farming, where land and . crops are dear, and where it will pay to make large expenditure for manure, and where stock is bought to feed on accouni of the manure, it is believed that the whole system of one class of men breeding the stock for another class to graze and feed is unprofitable. Here in Ohio there can be no question but that breeding steers of good blood for beef, having them ripe for market at say twenty-four to thirty months, is as profitable as any business the farmer can engage in. At these ages, a large majority of the best beef cattle in Great Britain are slaughtered; and it has been quite common to see fat and fully ripe bullocks in the markets of New York and Chicago within the last year under three years of age. It would seem that a revolution as complete and general as that which has occurred in the ages at which hogs are prepared for market is impending in the business of marketing cattle ; and it is quite clear that the eco. nomical reasons in favor of the slaughtering of young cattle are quite as
strong as those which brought about the remarkable change in the age for fattening swine.
It is easy to see the influence this change will exert upon the market for Shorthorn breeding. For early maturity, and especially for the influence which the blood exerts in this resp.ct upon common stock, there is no breed to compare with the Shorthorn.
FARM EXPERIMENTS MADE AT THE OHIO STATE
The following experiments, designed for the purpose of obtaining information as to the most profitable management of the farm, have been made during the past season under direction of the Professor of Agriculture :
THE FEEDING VALUE OF SUGAR BEETS.
The following inquiry into the value of sugar beets as a food for milch cows was made on the farm of the University during the past winter:
Eight cows were selected from the herd belonging to the institution, and were fed for a period of three weeks, beginning on the fourth of January, a daily ration of a dry mixture of 2.34 pounds of corn meal and 4.12 pounds of wheat “shorts,” in addition to timothy hay ad libitum, the feeding being done iwice per day. For a second period of three weeks they were allowed but half the quantity of meal and shorts, but were given instead 48 pounds each per day of sugar beets. During a third period of the same length the beets were omitted and the full ration of meal and shorts restored. During a fourth period of two weeks they were fed as in the second period, the experiment being concluded at the end of the eleventh week owing to the loss, during the warm weather of February of a portion of the beets which had been pitted out doors. During the whole of the experiment the ration of hay was unlimited, but the quantity actually eaten was carefully weighed. Each cow was also weighed daily and her milk was weighed at each milking. The results obtained are shown in table No. 1, which gives the average weight of each cow for each week, for each period, and for the four periods of the experiments as deduced from the daily weighings; the total yield of milk for each week, and the average yield for each period and for the four periods; the total consumption of hay for each week, and the average weekly consu nption for each period and for the four periods.