Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/45

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35
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

ordinary farmer spends in tending fifteen or twenty head of fattening steers under the disadvantages existing upon ordinary farms. In these mammoth establishments "a steam-engine moves the hay from one large barn to another, as needed, by means of an endless belt, and su]3plies it to a powerful machine, where it is cut into lengths suitable for feeding, and afterward carries the cut hay by other belts to the mixing-room, where by means of another machine it is mixed with corn-meal; the corn having been previously shelled and then ground on the premises by power from the same engine. Again, the mixed feed is carried automatically to the feed-boxes in the stalls. The same engine pumps the water for drinking, which runs in a long, shallow trough within reach of the steers; and even the stalls are cleaned by water discharged through a hose, the supply being raised by the engine and stored for use. The steers are not removed from the stalls in which they are placed from the time the fattening process is begun until they are ready for transportation to the big establishments above mentioned for systematic slaughtering. The advantages of such establishments are not, moreover, confined to labor-saving expedients merely. The uniformity of temperature secured through all kinds of weather is equivalent to a notable saving of feed; for where fluctuations of temperature are extreme and rapid, and not guarded against, "a great deal of the grain which the farmer feeds is 'blown away' after having been consumed by his stock," in form of vital heat, strength, and growth, which are the products of the conversion of the grain on digestion.[1]

  1. It has been found that the present usual method adopted on Western farms of feeding grain, especially corn, without previous grinding, is most costly, as the grain in its natural condition is imperfectly digested. Another serious objection to the imperfect methods of the ordinary farm in grain-feeding is, that the grain is fed in a too concentrated form; the fact being unknown, or disregarded, that the thrift of the fattening animal depends largely on the intimate admixture of ground grain With coarse forage; and that hay, also, must be chopped, and more thoroughly intermingled with it, for the attainment of the best results. But the chopping of the hay and straw and the mixing with meal and water is a laborious operation, and hence the economy of applying the steam-engine, and thus saving labor in the business of feeding. Another saving is in building materials; the larger the structure in which the machinery, the hay and grain, and the animals are kept, the less the proportionate quantity of lumber needed; and then, again, in such an establishment, temperature and ventilation, which in ordinary farming are matters that receive little attention, are economically and effectively regulated. An American practical farmer, the owner and manager of seven thousand acres (Mr. H. H. ——, of Nebraska), to whom the writer is indebted for many items of information, communicates the following additional review of this subject from the American (Western) stand-point: "The average Western farm is now recklessly managed, but capital will come in greater volume and set up processes which will displace these wasteful methods. The revolution is certain, even if the exact steps can not now be precisely indicated. At present the hay, and much of the grain, and nearly all of the tools and implements, are unsheltered; and more than fifty per cent of the hay is ruined for a like reason, while