Agriculture Feeding And General Management Of Farm Horses

oats steamed food potatoes straw

AGRICULTURE FEEDING AND GENERAL MANAGEMENT OF FARM HORSES As there is true economy in employing only the best quality of horses, and these in their prime, so also is there in feeding them uniformly well, and looking to their comfort in all respects. The following quotation from the Transactions (for October 1850) of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, describes the practice of some of our most experienced farmers in this particular The system of feeding I adopt is as follows : - From the middle of October till the end of May my horses get one feed of steamed food and two feeds of oats daily, with the best oat or wheat straw for fodder. I never give bean straw unless it has been secured in fine condition, having often seen the bad effects of it, partly owing, I think, to its long exposure to the weather. In our variable climate, and from the quantity of sand which adheres to it, I use it generally for litter. The steamed food used is well washed Swedish turnips and potatoes in equal proportions, mixed with sifted wheat-chaff. In those years when we had a total loss of potatoes Swedish turnip alone was used, but not with the same good effect as when mixed with potatoes. This year, having plenty of diseased potatoes in a firm state, I give a larger proportion of potatoes than turnip, and never upon any occasion give oat husks, commonly called meal-seeds, having often seen their injurious effects. At five o'clock in the morning each horse gets 6 lb weight of bruised oats, at noon the same quantity of oats, and at half-past seven r.u. 47 lb weight of steamed food. I find that it takes 62 lb weight of unsteamcd potatoes and turnip to produce 47 lb steamed ; to each feed of steamed food, 4 oz. of common salt are added, and mixed up with one-fourth part of a bushel of wheat-chaff, weighing about 1 lb, a greater quantity of wheat-chaff than this having generally too laxative an effect. Each horse eats from 14 lb to 18 lb of fodder during the twenty-four hours, besides what is required for litter, In spring I sometimes give a mixture of bruised beans and oats, instead of oats alone ; from June to the middle of October those horses that are required for the working of the green crop, driving manure, and harvest-work, are fed with cut grass and tares in the house ; and about 7 lb of oats each day, -given at twice, increasing or decreasing the quantity according to the work they have to do ; and I turn out to pasture only those horses that are not required until the busy season. I disapprove of horses that are regularly worked being turned out to grass, and exposed to all the changes of our variable climate, as I believe it to be the origin of many diseases. By this mode of feeding the horses are always in fine sleek condition, and able for their work. I have acted upon this system for the last fifteen years, have always had from 16 to 20 horses, and during that period I have only lost 7 horses, 8 of them from accidental causes ; and 1 attribute this, in a great measure, to the mode of feeding, and in particular to the steamed food."

The treatment of horses differs somewhat in other places from that now detailed. In Berwickshire, for example, they are usually turned to pasture as soon as the mildness of the weather and the forwardness of the pasture admit of it. While employed in carrying the crop, their fodder consists largely of tares, and afterwards till Martinmas they are fed on hay. From this date oat and bean straw, with 8 or 10 lb of raw swedes to each per diem, is substituted till the 1st of March, when, with the recurrence of harder labour, hay is again given till the return of the grazing season. During three-fourths of the year they receive about 16 lb of oats per diem, in three separate feeds. From the close of turnip-sowing until harvest, oats are either withheld or given only when a harder day's work occurs. The practice of bruising the whole of the oats given to horses, and also of chopping their hay, is now very prevalent. By giving a few pounds of chopped hay with each feed of bruised oats, and oat-straw in the racks, during the whole of the winter half-year, horses are kept in better condition and at no more expense than by giving them straw alone for half the period, and hay alone the other half. We are persuaded, also, that unless horses are stripped of their shoes and turned adrift altogether for a summer's run, soiling in boxes or sheds, with an open yard, is preferable to grazing. Hay and oats ought undoubtedly to constitute the staple fare of farm-horses. Without a liberal allowance of suitable and nourishing food, it is impossible that they can perform the full amount of work of which they are capable, or be sustained for any length of time in robust health. When alleged very cheap plans of feeding horses are inquired into, it is usually found that the amount and quality of the work performed by them is in fitting proportion. In this, as in so many other things, cheapness and economy are not convertible terms. The true way to economise the horse-labour of a farm is to have only good and well-fed animals, and to get the greatest possible amount of work out of them.

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