Abbildungen der Seite

3. The Gulf Coast Region: Crab grass, beggar weed, Mexican clover, velvet bean, carpet grass.

4. The Plains Region: Alfalfa, brome grass, foxtail and broom corn, millets, sorghum.

5. The Rocky Mountain States: Alfalfa, timothy and clover, orchard grass, wheat and oat hay.

6. The Pacific Coast: Alfalfa, grain hay (wheat, oats, and barley), timothy and clover, orchard grass, velvet grass.


The area devoted to permanent pastures is gradually decreasing with the development of more intensive systems of agriculture throughout the country and the settlement of the western ranges. The highest value of good farm land cannot be reached by keeping it in permanent pasture. Arable land so occupied will generally yield only a fraction of the feed that would be secured by a more intensive system of culture from annual cultivated or hoed crops or perennial legumes. According to good authorities, an acre of alfalfa used as green feed, will give as much nutritive forage as three or four acres in permanent pasture. In the experiments conducted at the Pennsylvania station, three to five times as much digestible feed was produced per acre by means of soiling crops, e.g., rye and corn, or corn and clover, as by pasturage ? (Fig. 11).

Care of Pastures.—The low returns in feed materials secured from permanent pastures are generally due to the fact that they receive little or no attention in the way of remedial measures; they are left to take care of themselves and are therefore likely to produce but little feed. Under a correct system of management, pasture lands are fertilized with farm manure or a complete commercial fertilizer every few years, in the fall or spring, and lime added as needed; they are harrowed, if possible, and seeded with a mixture of grasses and legumes in open places. Weeds are kept down by going over them with a mower once or twice in the season. Stock should, furthermore, not be turned in early in the spring, when the young plants would be seriously injured or checked in their growth by grazing and tramping, and only a limited number of animals are pastured, so that the grass will not be eaten off too closely to enable the plants to resume a quick growth. Drainage of pasture land is also important, as a regular but not excessive water supply is essential to a healthy and rapid growth of plants. The amount of feed that pasture land can supply will doubtless be largely increased by adopting a system of management similar to that just suggested.

In describing the Roberts pasture at the Cornell University * Pennsylvania Report, 1889, p. 101.


Farm, Professor Roberts states that after the pasture was well established it carried fully three times as many cattle per acre as the average pasture of the State of New York. The major factors in securing this result were:

“1. The clovers were not allowed to disappear.

“2. The stock was not turned on to the pasture in the spring until the soil was well settled and the grass well started.

“3. It was not overstocked early in the season; the plants thus had an opportunity to tiller and get a firm hold on the soil.

“4. It was mowed early in June.”


Fig. 11.-Shade trees and a running stream in the pasture make for the health and comfort

of farm animals. (Cornell Station.) The artificial pastures are grown in rotation with other crops; they are generally sown with a mixture of grasses and legumes, and remain in grass for a period ranging from only one or two years to a series of years, according to the system of rotation adopted. The yields of feed materials obtained from an acre of land in the case of these pastures are also, as a rule, considerably smaller than those secured by growing annual cultivated or hoed crops.

Pasture Grasses.—There are over one thousand different species of native and introduced grasses grown in the United States at the present time. Of this number about fifty are found on the market, and only about a dozen make up our main cultivated species.

Among the more important tame perennial grasses in this country may be mentioned Kentucky blue grass (or June grass), timothy, orchard grass, meadow fescue, red top, smooth brome grass, rye grass, and Bermuda grass. The characteristics and method of seeding, special adaptation, and agricultural value of these and other tame grasses are discussed in standard works on agronomy or forage crops, and will not be considered here (see p. 177). The various grasses differ considerably in chemical composition and feeding value, and differences due to the stage of development are also of importance. 3a

3“ Pastures in New York," Cornell Bulletin 280. See also Pa. Bul. 101; N. J. Cir. 43; Colo. Bul. 68; Utah Cir. 15; Idaho Bul. 80; Miss. Bul. 180; Farmers' Bul. 66; U. S. Dept. Agr. Bul. 201, 626; U. S. Dept. Agr. Yearbook, 1915, p. 299.

Chemical Composition.-The chemical composition of some of the common pasture grasses is shown in the following table:

Composition and Digestibility of Pasture Grasses, in Per Cent

[blocks in formation]

We note that the moisture contents of pasture grasses range from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, and in the case of very young plants, especially of Indian corn or legumes, it may even go over 90 per cent. The proportion of nutrients that animals on pasture receive in the early season is, therefore, very small, and they have to consume large amounts thereof to maintain their body weights. Unless they receive a feed of dry roughage in addition, they will not be likely to increase in weight or maintain a fair production on such immature forage crops. Most of the analyses given in the table show the average composition of the grasses at the time of bloom, when they would be cut for hay, while the pasture grass was cut and sampled at a rather immature stage. This explains why the nutritive ratio of pasture grass is 1: 4.5, while the ratios of the other grasses approach or exceed 1:10. Timothy is seen to have the widest nutritive ratio, viz., 1:14.2.

Grasses are generally sown in mixtures with clover or other legumes, since the growing habits of the different plants differ, and a permanent palatable herbage will thereby be secured throughout the season. Grasses and hay crops, like other crops, will yield the largest amount of nutritious feed when grown on well-fertilized land. Where farm manure is available, it is generally put on the pasture or meadow during the fall or early spring. Artificial fertilizers applied in the fall or spring make valuable substitutes. Nitrogenous fertilizers favor especially the growth of the grasses, while the clovers and other legumes are mostly benefited by potash and lime fertilizers. There are many experiments on record showing that the application of fertilizers on grass lands will give good returns in increased crop yields and an improved quality of the crop.

3a Farmers' Bulletin 66; U. S. Dept. Agr. Bul. 201.

Value of Pasturage.—Pasture grasses furnish a very nutritious and highly palatable feed for all classes of farm animals; it is the best feed for milk-producing animals that we have, and these produce the largest amount of milk when on good pasture. During the summer and early fall, pasture forms, as a rule, the sole feed for cattle and other farm stock, and when there is an abundance of green feed the cheapest gains and most economical production are made at this time. On account of the watery growth during early spring, stock should not be turned out too early, both for the good of the pasture and the stock. A feed of dry roughage, if available, or of good silage at this time, as well as late in the season, will produce better results than pasturage alone.

Feeding grain to cows on good pasture has not shown immediate direct results, so far as dairy production is concerned, according to investigations conducted at a number of experiment stations, but cows are brought to a better body condition by receiving grain while on pasture. They are also likely to maintain their flow of milk longer during the balance of the lactation and to do better the following lactation period than if no grain is fed (p. 213). On scant or dried-up pastures it is necessary to supply additional feed, either green soiling crops, hay, or grain feed, in order that the flow of milk may be maintained. This is so much the more important as a shortage of pasture feed is likely to come at a time when extreme hot weather and flies tend to make cows uncomfortable and largely reduce their milk production.

QUESTIONS 1. Name six different agricultural sections of the United States, with

characteristic pasture grasses and hay crops grown in each. 2. Why are only low yields obtained from many permanent pastures ?

Outline a correct system of pasture management. 3. How much moisture, digestible protein, carbohydrates, and fat are

generally present in pasture grasses ? 4. Give the characteristic differences between hay from grasses and gumes

* Cornell (N. Y.) Bulletins 13, 22, 36 and 49; N. D. Bul. 16; Kan. Report, 1888; W. V. Bul. 109; Miss. Bul. 70, Report 13; Utah Bul. 68; N. M. Bul, 98.


[ocr errors]

II. SOILING CROPS5 The soiling system consists in furnishing farm animals a succession of green feed in the stable or enclosures during the entire summer period. This system has long been practised by European dairy farmers; it became known in this country mainly through the essays on “ Soiling of Cattle,” by Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts, written nearly one hundred years ago.

The main advantages of the system as compared with pasturage may be briefly stated as follows:

1. Less land is required to produce the feed necessary for a certain number of animals than with pasture.


Fig. 12.—Indian corn grown for the silo or for soiling. ("Productive Farming.” Davis.)

2. There is no waste through tramping, lying down on the grass, or fouling with manure; the feed is cut at the proper time, and is always fresh and palatable (Fig. 12).

3. Less fencing is required, as cows need only a small enclosure for exercise under the soiling system.

4. The cattle are often more comfortable and in better condition when fed green feed in the stable than when left to find their own feed in the pasture, with the uncertainties as to condition of pasture, weather, etc.

5. The production of a large and even flow of milk is therefore favored, or a uniform increase in live weight in the case of fattening stock.

6. All the manure is saved and the fertility of the farm is therefore better maintained than under pasturage. Quincy gives as his experience that this saving alone is “a full equivalent for all the

• Adapted from an article on this subject by the author in Cyclopedia American Agriculture, vol. ii, pp. 569–574.

« ZurückWeiter »