Page images


To the prospective dairyman the pasture situation is perhaps the most discouraging. Where free range is available the native grasses will, in favorable years, supply an abundance of nutritious pasture. Practically every year the native grasses, if available, will support the dry cattle and heifers and keep them in a thrifty condition. Where the land has all been plowed and the native grasses destroyed a grass mixture consisting principally of bromus has been used successfully in providing a pasture. Only in the most favorable years, however, can one expect profitably to pasture the milking herd. The situation calls for all-the-year-round feeding of silage.


Taken in the whole, the crops of the Great Plains area are at present largely carbohydrate in character, and for best results it is necessary to import feeds rich in protein. The more progressive dairymen, who are improving their herds and working for increased production, are doing this, but the great majority are depending entirely on dry feeding the home-grown crops.

In the Great Basin, where alfalfa is abundant, it is a common practice to make the ration almost exclusively alfalfa hay. This is not necessary, as the barley and other grains rich in carbohydrates that are grown on these farms are available and should be used in balancing up the ration. It is where alfalfa is grown that the feeding problem is simple and that the industry is most profitable.


The feeding practice that prevails on the average dry-land farm is more responsible for the low average production than is the quality of the stock in use. While pasture is available, production is fair, but very few herds are producers during the late winter months. Frequently the unbalanced ration of dry-fed forage brings on digestive troubles that too often prove fatal. The ration alone is not responsible for this, but the poor water supply, so common on the dry farm, is also at fault. The advent of dairying more than any other one thing is giving the careless settler a new interest in getting a good water supply, and it has aroused the whole Plains area to the need of growing legumes.

After going to the expense of time and labor to grow a crop every effort should be made to save that crop in its most useful and valuable form. This should be true where crops are abundant, but is imperative where crops are poor. The efficient and economical handling and storage of forage is the foundation of profit with live stock. The experience of the settler in handling and feeding the

forage crops of the Plains has developed methods that are in themselves fair, but in traveling over the Plains country one can not help but be impressed with the apparent waste. The practice of leaving the sorghum or corn crop in the field in the shock until needed is far too common. The high winds that prevail on the Plains carry away much of the nutritious part of the plant, and the balance is filled with blown soil so that it is not palatable. The loss through field curing is unusually high on the Plains.


The general introduction of alfalfa will mark an epoch in the development of dry farming, but equally rich with possibilities is the coming of the silo. To the dairyman of the East the silo means the succulence of pasture all the year round, cheaper feeding, thrifty animals, and increased production. Adopted by the dry-land dairyman the silo loses none of its virtues and in addition becomes his one real effective weapon against drought. Every dry-land dairyman should have three times the silo capacity he expects to need in any one season. In favorable years it provides the extra storage room necessary for saving the large crop, and if several years of drought succeed one another, the reserve supply can be drawn upon to tide over the adversity. This reserve is his insurance against drought.

Destructive droughts sometimes occur when a crop is half or twothirds grown. At such critical times the silo is of peculiar value for entirely saving the growth made. Under the present system of depending on pasture in summer and dry feeding in winter production is confined almost entirely to the summer months. The dairyman with a silo finds that production is possible all the year round, and that winter production is far more profitable because of the higher prices offered for the product. The silo is revolutionizing the whole feeding practice and is putting it on a sound basis. It awakens the settler to a realization of the benefits to be derived from other improvements, such as better shelter and the breeding up of his herd.


We have already said that poor feeding was principally responsible for the low average production of cows on the dry farm. The other factor is the limited dairy capacity of the stock employed. The cows are mostly from the old range stock, selected to some extent because of their milking qualities. Very little improved dairy stock has thus far been introduced. It is, perhaps, as well, as very few farmers are equipped to properly shelter and feed such stock. The cows they have are accustomed to the hardships of "rustling"

for much of their food and shelter. Put under the same conditions, improved dairy stock would probably not do as well.

Having a silo, the dry-land dairyman is assured of his feed supply and is prepared to undertake the improvement of his herd. The plan adopted by many, and the one to be recommended, is the purchase of sires of recognized dairy merit and then grading up, using the native stock on hand as a foundation. This is not as rapid as purchasing improved stock, but it is cheaper, and, furthermore, it gives the farmer an opportunity to develop his ability to feed and handle improved dairy stock. Some few registered females are being imported, but most of them are shipped as calves.

The unit of the herd is the individual cow, and intelligent herd improvement must be based on a system of individual cow records. Some few dairymen are keeping such records, but because of the general lack of them it is impossible to give much authentic data as to returns from dry-land dairying. A dairyman is eastern Colorado is able to show gross receipts, averaged for three years, of over $80 per head, and without the use of a silo. A cow-testing association in North Dakota, about to close its second year, is able to show results even better, but the data of the association are not available for publication in this article. The average Plains cow is probably not producing 100 pounds of butter fat per year. By summing up the year's creamery returns it is possible to average the work of some herds. Such data are not always reliable, yet they would seem to indicate that some herds are averaging over 200 pounds of fat per year.

[ocr errors]



Specialist in Agricultural Education, Office of Experiment Stations.


More than 2,000 public high schools in the United States are now teaching agriculture; 16 years ago there was not one.

At the beginning of the present administration of the Department of Agriculture, in 1897, there were 61 State agricultural colleges and 9 agricultural schools-70 institutions in which agriculture was taught. Now agriculture is taught in about 2,600 State and private colleges, public and private agricultural schools, and public and private high schools.

This rapid growth of facilities for teaching agriculture has not extended over the whole of this 16-year period, but has been more marked in the last 4 years and most rapid in the last 2 years. Four years ago the agricultural-education service of the Office of Experiment Stations listed less than 350 institutions as teaching agriculture; two years ago, less than 900; now, about 2,600. Between 1908 and 1910 the number of institutions teaching agriculture was practically doubled, and between 1910 and 1912 this number was trebled. And while 16 years ago, or even 10 years ago, the public high schools were hardly thought of as effective agencies for the education of the rural people along vocational lines, at the present time they constitute over 80 per cent of the agencies engaged in teaching agriculture, not including, of course, the one-teacher elementary schools, which have never been listed by the department.


There are several types of secondary schools in which agriculture is taught.

First in order of establishment and in value of agricultural equipment are the agricultural schools connected with State agricultural colleges, as in Minnesota and 36 other States. These schools use the land, live stock, farm equipment, and laboratories of the agricultural colleges, and their classes are largely taught by professors and instructors in the agricultural colleges.

Secondly, there are the separate agricultural schools, which include county schools, like those in Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Wisconsin; congressional district schools, as in Alabama and Georgia; judicial district schools, as in Oklahoma; and schools serving larger districts, sometimes a whole State, as in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. These schools have been established primarily for the purpose of teaching agriculture.

The third type of school is the public high school in which a department of agriculture has been established or a teacher of agriculture employed or an agricultural course conducted by a science teacher with some agricultural training. These are the schools to be discussed in this paper, and for convenience in this discussion they will be considered under two classes: (1) High schools receiving State aid for instruction in agriculture and (2) high schools teaching agriculture without State aid.


Eleven States have appropriated funds to encourage the teaching of agriculture in existing public high schools, and one or two others have granted subsidies for conducting teachers' training courses in which agriculture is one of the subjects of instruction.

Virginia was first of the 11 States to make a specific appropriation for the teaching of agriculture in public high schools. In 1908 the Virginia Assembly appropriated $20,000 to enable the State board of education to inaugurate courses in agriculture, home economics, and manual training in at least 1 public high school in each of the 10 congressional districts of the State and in 1912 increased the appropriation to $65,000, including $25,000 to aid the schools in providing buildings and equipment and $10,000 for extension work to be conducted by them. There is nothing in the legislation to indicate how much money each school shall receive, because the number of schools. to be aided, and hence the amount available for each, is not stipulated, this whole matter being left to the discretion of the State board of education. At the present time, however, 10 schools, 1 in each congressional district, are dividing the funds equally.

Virginia was followed in 1909 by Maine and Minnesota. At that time Maine gave funds for instruction in agriculture and other industrial subjects in incorporated academies, but two years later an act was passed extending such aid to free high schools-two-thirds of the total expenditure for instruction in agriculture, home economics, and mechanic arts, but not to exceed $500 a year to any one school. In 1912, 8 schools in Maine received State aid for agriculture.

Minnesota passed an act giving $2,500 to each of 10 high, graded, or consolidated rural schools maintaining courses in agriculture, home

« PreviousContinue »