The Fort Dodge Daily Chronicle: June 21, 1915
Grow Your Own Feed
More Cowpeas Could Be Grown to Advantage of Dairyman.
Cost of Milk Can Be Greatly Reduced by Replacing Part of Concentrates in Rotation With Silage – Alfalfa is Cheapest.
Two many dairy farmers are running to the mills and feed stores for supplies for their dairy cows. They know they need concentrates, but do not study the problem of feeding to a conclusion. Down in Tennessee they raise a great deal of cowpea hay, and think much of it. Northern farmers might raise more to advantage. They are also beginning to know what alfalfa is down there, and they are feeding it largely in many sections of the state.
The Tennessee station has helped the farmers immensely by experimenting with the different feeds for dairy and beef cattle. The investigators find that the cost of milk can be greatly reduced by replacing a part of the concentrates in a ration with silage, because of its succulent and palatable nature.
A ton of alfalfa or pea hay can be produced as a cost of from $3 ($63.85 in today’s money) to $5 ($106.42), whereas wheat bran costs from $20 ($425.70) to $25 ($532.12). From two to three tons of pea hay and from three to five tons of alfalfa can be obtained from an acre of land; hence there is a great advantage in the utilization of these roughnesses in the place of wheat bran.
Alfalfa and pea hay cannot be substituted to the best advantage for cottonseed meal, as this foodstuff is so very rich in protein, that a larger bulk must be consumed than the capacity of the average cow will permit. The substitution of a roughness rich in protein for an expensive concentrate will enable the dairyman to make milk and butter as a less cost and will thus solve one of his most serious problems.
In substituting alfalfa hay for wheat bran, it will be best to allow one and one-half pounds of alfalfa to each pound of wheat bran; and the results are likely to prove more satisfactory if the alfalfa is fed in a finely-chopped condition.
These tests indicate that with alfalfa hay as $10 ($212.85) a ton and wheat bran at $20 ($425.70), the saving effected by substituting alfalfa for wheat bran would be $2 ($42.57) for every 100 pounds of butter and 19.8 cents ($4.21) for every 100 pounds of milk. The farmer could thus afford to sell his milk for 19.8 cents ($4.21) a hundred less than he now receives, and his butter for about 22 cents ($4.68), as compared with 25 cents ($5.32) a pound.
These experiments show why alfalfa has been frequently used as a basis of manufactured foodstuffs, and indicate that the farmer who can grow it makes a mistake in purchasing artificial stuffs of which it forms the basis.
When alfalfa was fed under the most favorable conditions, a gallon of milk was obtained for 5.7 cents ($1.21), and a pound of butter for 10.4 cents ($2.21). When pea hay was fed, the lowest cost of a gallon of milk was 5.2 cents ($1.11), and a pound of butter 9.4 cents ($2).
In localities where pea hay has grown well, it can be utilized to replace wheat bran; and in sections where alfalfa can be grown, this crop can be substituted for pea hay with satisfaction.
(Editor’s note: I have attempted to put the adjusted for inflation price in italics next to the 1915 price in every case. And remember, although the article says that a gallon of milk could be produced for the equivalent of $1.21, that doesn’t include packaging and getting it to market. This is no reason to get upset with farmers for today’s high prices.)