Double Milk Yield in Six Years
By M.N. Beeler
Cow testing records enabled E.C. Adams, Jackson County, Missouri, to double the milk yield of his cows in six years. He joined the cow testing association 11 years ago, just three years after he had entered the dairy business. His 25 cows that first year averaged 5,000 pounds of milk containing 200 pounds of fat. During the last five years, his herd has averaged 10,000 pounds of milk and more than 300 pounds of fat.
There are only 12 herds in the United States that have been on the National Dairy Association honor roll five years. Mr. Adams’s herd is one of them. To get on the honor roll, a herd must have a year dairy herd improvement association average of at least 300 pounds of fat. That the Adams herd is still increasing its production is indicated by the record last year. The 72 cows in milk and on test averaged more than 11,000 pounds of milk, which contained 375 pounds of fat.
Mr. Adams is producing certified milk under the requirements of the Jackson County Medical Association. To qualify for certification, the bacterial count of milk must be below 10,000 bacteria a cubic centimeter. During 10 months last year, his count on 500 quarts of certified milk a day averaged only 1,972 bacteria a cubic centimeter. The overhead cost for certified milk production is rather high, and of course, he receives a special price. The demand is limited. So to increase his income, he produces milk to the capacity of his farm and equipment, and sells the surplus over the demand for certified as ordinary commercial Grade A. His output is 1,200 to 1,300 bottles a day.
“Volume is the important factor in increasing income,” Mr. Adams said. “The overhead would be about the same if I were producing only the certified milk, so I operate to capacity.”
Volume also was the motive in building up the production of his herd. Not only did Mr. Adams double the milk yield of his herd in six years, but he also increased the size. The herd average last year was 120 percent higher than it was 11 years ago, and the size was almost three times what it was then.
“A cow that produces only 5,000 pounds of milk and 200 pounds of fat will not pay her keep,” said Mr. Adams. “I figure it takes 7,500 pounds of milk from a cow before she begins to pay me. My feed costs are higher than the average, as also are my other production costs, so a little additional milk means more to me than it does the average dairyman. But at that I do not see why my requirements of a cow should not suit the average man. If he can operate at lower costs than I can, then he would profit all the more.
No man under present conditions can make money on cows that average 200 pounds of fat. I would not be in business today if I had not made the increase I did in my milk and fat yield. The increase of 5,000 pounds of milk at 5 cents a pound, that’s on the basis of 40 cents a gallon, which I receive for milk, gives an increase of $250 a year ? in the gross income, a cow.”
How was the increase accomplished? In the first place, the herd was placed on test to determine production. It was continued on test so the records would serve as a guide in improvement. The records dictated the kind of bull that was needed. Further testing showed whether his daughters should be retained. Feed and other cost records showed how much income was necessary to pay expenses. Only such cows as will return a profit are retained. And he raises all his replacements.
“I raise all my heifers,” said Mr. Adams. “Every cow that stays in the herd long enough to produce a calf meets my requirements for production, and so under ordinary circumstances would be considered good enough to justify retaining her heifer calves. But I make the heifers prove themselves. They are bred, and when they calve, they are milked 7 to 8 months. From their records I can calculate what their annual production will be. I expect a heifer to produce at the rate of 9,000 pounds of milk and 325 to 330 pounds of fat. If she doesn’t meet these requirements, I can’t keep her in the herd.”
Making the heifers prove themselves was responsible for a jump in average milk yield from 5,000 pounds in 1918 to 10,000 pounds in the five-year period beginning in 1924. The practice ensures that no unprofitable cows will be admitted to the herd, which with the use of a bull of high-producing ancestry, eliminates most of the chances for low-producing heifers.
The trial also gives the earliest possible test on the herd bull. If his daughters do not show the expected improvement, or if they are not so good as their dams, his use can be discontinued. Right feeding also has an influence on production, but that is noticeable only when a change is made. Mr. Adams always has fed his cows according to production, a pound of grain to 3 pounds of milk, which enables them to produce to the maximum. The major influence in increased herd average, therefore, has been in breeding and selection, with the cow test records as a guide.
Jacobson Builds a Four-Way Barn
By Ivan D. Wood, University of Nebraska
The problem of building a new barn confronted James A. Jacobson, Hamilton County, Nebraska. He must provide room for eight milk cows, 30 head of stock cattle, and nine work horses. Then there ought to be at least one box stall and two grain bins, besides a large hay storage. He might have built a separate cow barn, a hay shed for the hay, and a horse barn for the horses, but he decided that he would make one roof cover all. The type of barn Mr. Jacobson built is popular in many parts of the Middle West.
In the central part of the building, the hay comes down to the ground in a space 24 feet wide. At one side is a lean-to shed for milk cows, and on the other side one for work horses. At the rear is a third lean-to, 14 feet wide by 56 feet long, an ideal shelter for stock cattle. At the front of the hay space are two grain bins with a capacity of 425 bushels each. These grain bins are easily filled thru grain doors in the front of the barn, and are readily accessible from the interior. The actual width of the building is 56 feet (24 feet for hay, and a 16-foot shed on either side). The length is 60 feet, counting the 14-foot shed at the rear.
A barn of this type is not easily wrecked in a storm, because it is so well-braced. Two rows of purlin posts are set at each side of the hay space to support the roof. They are spaced 8 feet apart and are of 6-inch-by-6-inch material. The studding at the sides of the sheds is of 2-inch-by-6-inch material 10 feet long and spaced 4 feet on centers. The siding ordinarily used is 1-inch-by-12-inch barn boards with galvanized metal battens. A good grade of wood shingles will give good service on the roof because of its steep slope.
Now that a general idea of the shape and size of the barn has been given, let us see about some of the details. First, the foundation is important. Too many good barns give poor service because the owner decided to skimp on this important feature. A few rocks set under the sills is not a foundation, but a good wall of concrete 8 inches thick at the top, 14 inches wide at the bottom, and extending into the solid ground 24 inches is, and a barn set upon it will not settle out of shape. It is well, also, to carry this foundation high enough above the ground surface so that manure or dirt will never come in contact with the siding or sills.
Floor surfaces often present a problem. They must be hard enough to stand wear, yet must not injure stock. They must slope to give proper drainage. In this barn, the open shed for stock cattle may be safely floored with a layer of concrete 4 inches thick, or it may be left with a dirt floor. The horse stalls have plank floors, but the alley is of concrete. Milk cows are not kept in the barn continuously in the Middle West as is the case in some sections, and concrete floors in the stalls have not proved injurious. The stall floor slopes to a gutter just behind the cows, while the gutter slopes to a drain leading out through the foundation wall.
The interior equipment of the cow shed may be expensive or simple, depending on the wishes of the owner. A good floor is almost a necessity for the sake of cleanliness, but homemade stanchions may be all the owner can afford. Metal stalls and patent stanchions certainly have much to recommend them. They are easily installed when the concrete is being run; they do not collect filth; and they give the animals a greater degree of comfort. A stall partition will protect a cow’s udder from being injured while lying down, and thus, may save many times its cost.
The horse stalls are 8 feet wide with good partitions of 2-inch plank between them. One common mistake made in stall construction has to do with the distance from the front of the manger to the wall behind the horses. If made too short, an animal easily can kick anyone passing behind him or damage the outer wall. If a harness is hung on this wall, it is continually being knocked down. In this barn, the distance is 16 feet, which has been found to be about correct. One or two single stalls may be desirable for colts, ponies, or a vicious animal which cannot agree with its neighbors.
Doors are so arranged that a manure spreader may be driven thru the shed at the rear, where stock cattle are sheltered, and feeding arrangements for grain and hay are convenient. In fact, a feed alley leading from the grain bins in front of all the stock reduces feeding operations to a minimum. When the loft is filled, hay is thrown down thru a chute into this alley and fed where required.
Barns of this type are liable to be cold, unless the side sheds are partitioned off from the central hay space. This may be done without much extra expense, and openings are then provided through which hay may be thrown into the feed alleys when the supply in the central space is fed down below the regular chutes. In cold weather, when all doors and windows are closed and hay is in the center, some additional ventilation is needed. This is provided through fresh air inlets on either side, and a large outlet ventilator at the center of the roof.
In order to get full benefit of light and air, the building is best located with the long way north and south, putting the cows on the east side, horses on the west side, and stock cattle on the south side. This puts the hay door of the loft on the north also, which is a distinct advantage. This north and south location also is good from the standpoint of the roof. Shingles last longer when they do not face the north.
Many barns are built with a small amount of window area, and this always is a mistake. North windows may be a disadvantage, owing to the amount of cold air they admit, but certainly the cow barn needs as many windows as can be used conveniently. At least some of these windows should be of the ventilating type, which tip inward at the top and are supported at the sides with galvanized metal strips.
The barn built by Mr. Jacobson, which he likes very much, would not be adapted to all farms, of course, because many do not wish storage for 65 tons of hay. However, where hay and grain storage, as well as plenty of room for livestock, is required, the shed-type barn is convenient and economical. Harvey West, Otoe County, Nebraska, recently built a barn like this one. The cost of this barn, depending on local conditions and how much skilled labor is employed, is estimated at around $1,200.
Complete blueprint plans and specifications of this barn (the Jacobson barn, plan No. 10.723-6), which give every detail of construction, are available at actual cost of making them – $1.20. To get yours, send your order to The Building Editor, Capper’s Farmer, Topeka, Kansas.