1Reabing=Couree for farmers
PUBLISHED BY THE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY,
FROM NOVEMBER TO MARCH, AND ENTERED AT ITHACA AS SECOND-
CLASS MATTER UNDER ACT OF CONGRESS OF JULY. 16, 1894.
S. W. FLETCHER, Supervisor.
SERIES II. ITHACA, N. Y., No. 7.
STOCK FEEDING. DECEMBER, 1901. COMPUTING RATIONS.
THE COMPUTING OF BALANCED RATIONS.
A MEMBER of the Farmers' Reading-Course writes us as follows:
I have read your Bulletin No. 6 on Balanced Rations for Stock,'
and think I see why John succeeded and David failed. I believe
that there is a good deal in what you say about feeding different kinds of
food for different purposes. I notice, however, that you say cornmeal
FIG. 69. Arew York State is a natural grazing region. Grass is its main crop.
is not good for feeding to milch cows. Now I have found that I can
get most anything I want out of my stock if I have a well-filled corn-
crib. Can you tell me why your theories do not work in this case? I
do not feel quite sure that I understand what you mean by 'carbo-
hydrates' and 'protein.' If you can, please be more plain."
1. The classes of foods.
Our answer was as follows:
I am very glad you have asked about that corn-crib. There are
many other farmers who will not discard corn as the best grain
for feeding all kinds of stock; and if I can make a convert of you I
shall expect you to argue this point with all the corn farmers in your
State of New York- Department of Agriculture. Farmers' Reading-Course Bulletin No. 7.
You have learned in Farmers' Reading-Course Bulletin No. 6 that there
are only two general classes of foods, or nutrients as they are often called,
which the farmer needs to feed his animals in large amounts. These are
the muscle-makers (called by various names, such as proteids, protein,
albuminoids or nitrogenous substances), and the heat, energy and fat-
makers (the fats and the carbohydrates). The chief value of protein is
to build up all parts of the body which have work to do, including, with
the other vital organs, the milk-secreting tissue of a cow's udder. It also
enters largely into the composition of many animal products, as hair, wool,
eggs, lean meat and milk. The chief value of the carbohydrates in stock
food, on the other hand, is as fuel, by means of which the heat in the
FIG. 70. The corn-crib has been the mainstay of the farmer, without discrimination
as to what purposes he was feeding for.
animal's body is maintained. They also supply, at least in part, the energy
which enables the muscles to work, and they enter into the composition
of certain products, such as fat in meats and milk. Any surplus of carbo-
hydrates which the food contains may be and usually is stored up in the tis-
sues of the body as fat. These statements show what usually takes place;
but since the muscle-makers may perform any of the functions of the fat-
makers to some extent, it is more exact not to speak of these substances
according to their functions, but according to their composition, and to
call them protein, fats and carbohydrates, instead of muscle-makers and
Now let us see which among the different kinds of hays, grains and
fodders that we commonly feed to our farm animals contain carbohydrates
and which contain protein in large amounts. The chemist takes all of
them into his laboratory and treats them with chemicals for many hours.
Finally he tells us that every one of them contains both protein and carbo-
hydrates, but most of them are richer in one than in the other. So we
must not think to find our muscle-makers and fat-makers put up in separate
packages, ready to be mixed as needed. They are combined in different
proportions in all kinds of feeding stuffs. The chemist finds out what
these proportions are; so we can tell at a glance for which purpose each
kind of grain or hay is more valuable, whether for beef or milk.
In Bulletin No. 154 of the Cornell Experiment Station, on pages
142 to 153, you will find a table which shows the amount of protein and
carbohydrates which different hays and grains contain. In order to under-
stand more clearly what the different columns of figures mean, I will
copy a few and explain them here. The figures given in this table, how-
ever, do not represent the total composition of the food as the chemist
finds it, but they have been modified to represent that part of the food
which feeding experiments have shown to be digestible:
POUNDS OF DIGESTIBLE NUTRIENTS.
KINDS AND AMOUNT OF FEED. Total Idry Nutritive
matter. carbohy- ratio.
Protein. drates + Total.
(fat X 2.25).
Corn, I lb.................. ..... .89 .079 .764 .843 I 9.7
W heat bran, i lb.................. .88 .122 .453 -575 I : 3.7
Timothy hay, Ilb................ .87 .028 .465 .493 I : 6.6
Red clover hay, I lb............. .85 .o68 .396 .464 I : 5.8
Suppose you take a pound of your cornmeal to the chemist and ask
him what is its value for feeding to stock. He will first heat it to dry
out all the water, for you already know that a large part of all plants and
animals is water. (See Farmers' Reading-Course Bulletin No. 4.) Nearly
a ninth of this cornmeal is water; so that after being dried for several
hours only 89 parts are left of the original Ioo. Thus in the first column,
called Total dry matter," you will find .89.
The chemist then takes this perfectly dry cornmeal now left from the
original pound and treats it with chemicals. In the 89 parts he finds
that 7 parts are protein and 76 parts are carbohydrates and (fat x 2z/4).
(See Farmers' Reading-Course Bulletin No. 6.) Of the remaining parts
some are mineral and help to make the bones of the animals; others are
indigestible and are discarded. In the second column, then, he puts protein,
.079; and in the third column the carbohydrates and (fat x 21/,). The
fourth column, headed Total," is simply the sum of the two preceding
columns; it shows that out of every Ioo parts of cornmeal the animal
can use 84 for building up its body, only in this fourth column the fat is
included at 24 times the amount actually present in order to state it in
terms of its starch equivalent. These are called digestible nutrients.
FIG. 71. The waste of food value. The ear represents only about a third of the full
feeding value of a mature corn-plant. Is it economy to leave the stover in the fields
till spring, thereby losing perhaps a third of its feeding value by weathering and by
depredations of crows and mice?
You hear much about the nutritive ratio" in stock feeding, and
perhaps have been puzzled to find out just what it means. I have told
you that most feeding stuffs contain both protein and carbohydrates, but
in different proportions. The nutritive ratio is simply the proportion,
or ratio, between the amount of protein and the amount of carbohydrates
in food. Take your cornmeal, for instance. It has nearly 8 parts of pro-
tein, and 76 parts of carbohydrates including (fat x 2%). This would be
the same as I part of protein to about 9 of carbohydrates and (fat x 24).
In the last column of the table, therefore, you will find 1:9.7, which is
merely the comparative amounts of the two kinds of nutrients. The two
dots between the I and the 9 show that one number is being compared with
the other. It is very important that you should know what the nutritive
ratio is, for you will need to use it when selecting materials for making
a balanced ration.
One reason why John's cows gave more milk than David's was
because he fed them wheat bran instead of cornmeal. Let us see how
FIG. 72. The haystack method of feeding-good enough for old-time conditions, but
giving way to more exact and more economical methods.
much protein,and how much carbohydrates the chemist finds in one pound
of wheat bran. I have put his figures under those for cornmeal so you
can compare the two easily (page 103). Do you see that the bran has
12 parts of protein, or nearly twice as much as the meal? Also, that it
has over a third less of carbohydrates? The proportion, or nutritive
ratio, for wheat bran is therefore : 3.7, since it contains i part of protein
for every 3.7 parts of carbohydrates, including (fat x 24).
Here, then, is my argument. The wheat bran which John fed his
cows was nearly twice as rich in protein as the cornmeal which David fed.
A good deal of protein is needed for the production of milk. Do you
wonder, then, that David's cows soon began to get fat and go dry? They
were starving for protein, although overfed with carbohydrates. That
well-filled corn-crib of yours will make you lose many a dollar in the
same way if you trust to it entirely for feeding your milch cows.
David fed timothy hay. John fed clover hay. The table tells us
that clover hay has nearly three times as much protein as timothy hay and
almost as much carbohydrates; yet you will pay $12 a ton for timothy
and feed it to your dairy cows, when clover can be bought for $9. Is
there profit in this?
I have nothing against your corn-crib if-you will only use it wisely.
I have tried to show that corn tends to produce fat; yet you feed it alike
to shotes and hogs, team horses and roadsters, broilers and laying pullets,
milch cows and fattening steers. You say that you can get almost any-
thing you want out of your stock with corn. Have you ever compared
it with other feeds? If not, how do you know that you could not get
better results with another ration? Suppose you make your farm a little
experiment station by feeding John's ration to part of your cows, and
David's to the remainder. Or take four fresh cows giving about the
same amount of milk a day, and feed John's ration to two and David's
to the other two. I know it is rather hard to see how the figures in these
tables are going to make differences in the milk-pail, but if you can see
what goes into the manger and what comes into the pail you will doubt
no longer, for a man usually believes his own eyes. Try it. I shall
be pleased to hear the results of your own experiment.
2. The question of digestibility.
To this the correspondent replied as follows:
I think I begin to see into this feeding problem more clearly. What
I want to do is to prevent a waste of food, is it not? If I am keeping cows
for their milk you want me to feed a ration which will make milk,
and not be wasted in making fat. To feed along with the milk-
making food a lot of fat-making food which is not needed would be
There are a few things in those tables which I do not understand
yet. What has that first column, called 'Total dry matter,' to do with
this feeding question? I cannot see where it comes in at all. Again,
you said in Bulletin No. 6 that animal manure contains that part of the
food which the animal cannot use. I do not see where the chemist has
made any allowance in his tables for the undigested part of the grain and
hay which we feed. Just one more question. You have shown that there
are two sides to this feeding problem: One is, what the animal needs;
the other is, what the food supplies. Now how am I to know what and
how much my animals need? How did John know?"
Our reply was as follows:
I wonder whether it would be plainer to you if I should say "bulk"
instead of "total dry matter." It is possible to put all the nour-
ishment in the food which you eat during a day into a few very small
tablets. Do you not think this would be a great saving of time and
labor? You could eat the tablets while at work, and would not need
FIG. 73. Spring pasture-grass is nature's balanced ration for milch cows.
to stop for dinner. But how long would you live on such a diet? In
the same way you could feed all the nutrients which your cows need in
a comparatively small amount of gluten feed and cornmeal; but you know
the cows would not be likely to thrive long on such high living. The
reason in both cases is that the food of most animals must be bulky
enough to fill the stomach and give the digestive organs plenty of
room to work. It is natural for a cow to eat a large amount of coarse
fodder, much of which is indigestible and is cast off as manure. In
selecting a ration for animals, therefore, one of the very first things to
look out for is to make it bulky enough; and the column of Dry matter "
will help us in this. We usually depend upon hay and fodder for most
of the bulk of the ration and add grains to make it concentrated enough
for our purpose. There is a danger of making the ration too bulky.
Clover hay alone is nearly a balanced ration for milch cows; yet the
cows would have to eat so much of it in order to get all the food they
need that their stomachs would be unduly distended. You have probably
noticed how pot-bellied a horse gets if fed on hay alone.
I am glad you have brought up the point that the figures of the
chemist tell only how much nutritive material the food contains. He
cannot find out in the laboratory whether or not the animal can use it
all after it is taken into the stomach. To do this we must make feeding
experiments with the animals themselves. This point has been carefully
studied for many years, and we now know approximately how much of the
nutrients in our common feeding stuffs the animal can use. You will
notice that over the columns of protein and carbohydrates in the table
is Pounds of digestible nutrients." This means that the figures given
are not the whole amounts of nutrients in the feeding stuff, but only
that part which the animal probably can use. In making up your rations,
therefore, these figures may be taken as they stand without deducting
anything for waste.
On page 150 of Bulletin 154 you will find a table of "Feeding
Standards;" or the average amounts of the different nutrients which
many experimenters have found to be best suited for making milk, beef
or for other purposes. I will copy three items in it to show how the
matter. Carbo- ratio.
Protein. hydrates Total.
lbs. lbs. lbs. ls.
Oxen at rest in stall................ 17.5 0.7 8.3 9.0 I:11.9
Oxen heavily worked................ 26.0 2.4 14.3 16.7 1: 6.3
Milk cows, Wolff's standard ......... 24.0 2.5 13.4 15.9 I: 5.4
One of these is a good illustration of the fact that animals which are
hard at work need a liberal supply of protein. The table shows that
oxen in the stall need only 17 pounds of feed a day (that is, after the
water has been dried out of it), while those in the yoke need 26 pounds.
But the difference is not only in bulk: it is also in composition. Oxen
at rest can get along with only seven-tenths of a pound of protein a day,
while oxen at work need three and one-half times that amount. On the
other hand, oxen on the cart need but three-quarters more carbohydrates
than oxen in the barn; so that while a working animal requires one pound
of protein to every six pounds of carbohydrates, an idle animal can get
along very well with a ration having a nutritive ratio of one to twelve.
Since there is this difference in the needs of working and idle animals,
do you not think it would pay to make a difference in what you feed the
two, beside in mere amount?
Now compare the needs of a milch cow with those of a working
ox. You see they are nearly the same all the way through, and yet the
cow may be standing in the barn all day. Why should she need as much
FIG. 74. Buckwheat yields high protein value in "buckwheat middlings."
protein as the great brawny ox straining in the yoke? The reason was
given in Farmers' Reading-Course Bulletin No. 6. It is because milk-
making is accompanied by great activity of the vital organs of the cow
and also because milk itself is rich in protein. In order to give a good
flow the cow must have enough material on hand to do the work.
In Table I of Bulletin No. 154 you will learn what nutrients the animal
needs; in Table II you will find what nutrients the different hays and
grains supply. I think you will have no difficulty in making up your
animal rations from these two tables.
3. "Balanced rations are not rules or recipes, but guides.
Again our correspondent replies:
Those 'Feeding Standards' figure out well on paper, but I am
wondering how they will work in the stable. I have two horses-
Cherub, who is always plump and good-natured, and Spider, who is
always lean and vicious. I call Cherub an easy keeper and Spider a
hard keeper; for although both do the same amount of work and get the
same amount of feed, Cherub is fat and jolly, while Spider shows both
ribs and temper.. Some of my cows are the same way. With such differ-
ences in animals, I do not see how you can show your tables to be of
We replied as follows:
What you say about the differences in the producing power of animals
is very true. It would not do to lay down a general rule that all ten-year-
old boys need four pieces of bread and butter for supper. Their needs
are different because the boys are different, not only in appetite but also
in ability to digest food. I cannot tell you just how much food your
milch cow needs, because I do not know the cow. What I can do, how-
ever, is to tell you the amount of food. which has given good results for
many other milch cows, and which will probably be somewhere near what
your cows need. These feeding standards are not rules, but hints. The
skill of the feeder may be measured by his ability to find out how far the
needs of each animal will warrant a variation from the standard when
feeding that animal. They will guide you in your purchase of feeds. You
would not give a snap for a hired man who does everything by rule of
thumb. Come to this table for suggestions, not for directions. Do not
follow it pound for pound, but vary the amount with each animal
according to its appetite and ability to use food.
The above teaching shows what is likely to take place. Every animal
is a law unto itself. The farmer must experiment with his animals. The
tables and figures should save you much indirection in your experimenting.
To THE READER:
If you are interested in this Bulletin you should secure other literature
which will add to your knowledge of the subject. The Reading-Course
Bulletins are designed to merely introduce the subject. They are brief and
elementary; you should supplement them with reading from other sources.
We do not care to recommend certain books and Bulletins over other
publications on the same subject; but, in connection with the subject con-
sidered in this Bulletin, we believe that you will find the following pub-
lications of special interest. The books can be bought of the publishers;
the bulletins usually can be obtained free on application to the address
I. The Feeding of Animals. By W. H. Jordan. Published by the
Macmillan Company, New York.
2. Feeds and Feeding. By W. A. Henry. Published by The Orange
Judd Company, New York.
3. The Feeding of Farm Animals. Farmers' Bulletin No. 22, United
States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.
4. Sheep Feeding. Farmers' Bulletin No. 49.
5. Tables for Computing Rations for Farm Animals. Cornell Experi-
ment Station Bulletin No. 154. This Bulletin should be used in connec-
tion with this discussion on feeding. It is sent on application to Reading-
Course Bureau, Ithaca, N. Y.
6. Separator Skimmed Milk as Food for Pigs. Cornell Experiment
Station Bulletin Nos. 199 and 220.
Two reading-courses for farmers are maintained by the College of
Agriculture of Cornell University: the Farmers' Reading-Course and the
Farmers Wives' Reading-Course. These courses are supported by a State
appropriation and are without cost to parties residing in New York State.
Many thousand persons are enrolled in them each winter. The general
purpose of these courses is to present some of the underlying principles
of agriculture in the plainest and briefest form for those who .are not in
the habit of studying technical books on these subjects. They are not
intended to be full correspondence instruction courses, with books as the
basis of the work. However, "we are always glad to recommend books
that we believe to be good for special courses of reading, either to indi-
vidual readers or to reading clubs. It is a good plan to follow any one
.of the series of Reading. Bulletins with a complete study in books. There
are now so many bright, readable, practical books that the reader is almost
sure to find much help in most subjects pertaining to the farm.
Readers will find much advantage in forming themselves into clubs.
Six to a dozen persons are usually sufficient for an energetic and effective
club. The Bulletins are issued monthly. Usually it requires two meet-
ings, or discussions, to get the most from a Bulletin. Therefore it is well
to have the club meet at least twice a month. The club meeting may be
made a very pleasant social feature, particularly if it is held at the residence
of one of the members. If there is a secretary for the club he may return
the Discussion-papers for all the members and attend to other corre-
spondence. Now and then the Reading-Course Bureau can send an
inspector or one of the professors in the College of Agriculture to visit
the club or to give a lecture. The club may be organized from members
of a subordinate grange and use the grange hall as a place of meeting.
Sometimes the grange itself uses the Reading Bulletins as subjects of
The Reading-Courses are intended to articulate with the Winter-Courses
given at the College of Agriculture. Students who have taken the winter-
courses are often very effective organizers of reading clubs. We hope,
also, that many persons, taking the reading-courses will feel like pursuing
the subjects further by taking the winter-course work. The winter-
courses are also supported by the State. They open the beginning of
January and continue till the middle of March. Tuition is free to all
residents of New York State. -The expenses are practically. those of
traveling and living, although there are some small laboratory fees. The
average expenses of the students, from the time they leave home till they
return, are about $75. Regular professors in the College of Agriculture
of Cornell University give instruction in these winter-courses. Full
information may be had by addressing the Director of the College of
Agriculture, Ithaca, N. Y.
The above enterprises are part of the Extension Work in Agriculture.
Other parts of it are the nature-study enterprises and. the experiments
on farms in various parts of the State. The Nature-Study Bureau issues
two publications: The Junior Naturalist Monthly and Home Nature-
Study Course." Many of the results of the extension experiments are
published in bulletins of the Experiment Station.