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SHEEP FEEDING.

THE LAWS OF GRAZING.— H.

(By J. R. WiLKiNSON, M.A.,Chertseyl)

[Correction—Mr Oliver thus corrects an error of quotation made in Paper I:— " I cannot see how ... Mr Wilkinson makes out that 'I said that 3£ bushels of oats and 1J out chaff were the quantities allowed by Mr Randall for three months,winter feeding. =■, .1 never said so. I mr,de Mr Randall's 31bs of hay a basis for my calculations, and Mr Boussingaulfc andhis learned friends helped me to the rest." The. argument ef course remains unaffected.] 'After sending Paper I to the Press^ I saw in the " Ashburton Mail" a letter on artificial sheep-feeding by Mr Herring, of Alford.. tt details Home methods a few years ago and Mr Herring's own methods at Alford. It is valuable in many' ways. Assuming that English sheep, farmers have gone as far with ' artificial methods' as the point of greatest net. profits, and -riot any further, we see what a long way'we can gain artificiality' •before the rate of net profit ceases to increase. Mr Herring's method is successful he says, 1 and I suppose there is.nonevbui feels his data reliable and.his recommendations safe. He, however, divides throughout sheep" farmers-from, grain growers; and this, it seems to me, will destroy his influence with ordinary farmers. . Is.not the prpblem this : How can ordinary farmers practise most profitably the r improved method of she^p feeding that the introduction: of freezing enables them to adopt? It claims* the attention of both theoretical and practical men' at the present time, and deserves pubUc, as well as private,' discussion. J think it sufficient cause for-adyocating> ki r-p thnt frr-Fn 1 facts every week prove to be'iiwomry --lit 1 forming of ; farmers' associations in every school district. A practical method of forming an association of this kind/ia given at the; end of .this paper. '''V. 1-': j. Mr Herring's practice and advocacy of tpe artificial is a great support to me, as my grounds are mostly theoretical,'and'the mere theorist is apt to overlook important and even necessary' factors and bring upon himself the scorn of the 1 mere practical. To escape the charge of presumption I ask rtt .tention to the fact, that all our practice matters have a theoretical side to which belong their laws and principles j and the theory of an operation, as it. depends on the primary sciences, is as much in the. domain Df the laboratory student as in that of the practical, man. , The authorities on any subjecit, as Mechi, Randall, Lawes, on farming, must know both sides. Their method is first to 1' see clearly what is wanted, and then to apply their theory and study in order to suggest practical plans, and then to get to actual work.>» .'^ , The following consideration shows us our present poaition^and our need of stirring (o meet the times:—Grazing and sheep feeding appear to go-through ;*" thf&rSiages. THe., primitive is exemplified by the" sheep runs of I squatterdom., There is here no attempt at 1 artificial improvement; native pasture alone is grazed, and wool and store sheep are the sole produce. ■ This stage can hardly be safd to belong to civilisation ; but it may be called the golden age, and its natural lords by the slow magmfing power of tradition, Jtroduced -,princes, patriarchs, heroes, in abled 'antiquity. The second stage is that of the true makers of the colony, the first farmers, the back bone of the country. To the early •farmer' grain is- more important than wool; but he substitutes imported and more productive grasses for the native ones, and pastures become more efficient. As shown in Paper I, however, the grass is' at 'rhep mercy of weather and seasons, and sheep feeding is almost solely grazing, so that fattening is not much attended to. But with the increase of. population a demand, and market for fat sheep springs up'and in'process of time the production of mutton becomes as important as, grain and wool growing; and then the third and last .stage , begins. Artificial feeding appears on the scene, being simply a necessity. English' sheep farmers have hiihert'o'hada,monopoly inthemuttoh,trade at Home, .but. the wheat growers have been outdone by' ,'the foreign producers, to such an extent tliat in the last thirty years or so, the price of wheat has fallen fifty per cenfe, bringing incalculable good.to the general community, though the wheat growers themselves are rather, as Mr Herring says, out ait elbows." Similarly the introductidns of freezing has brought the colonies' into competition' with the Home, sheep 'farmers, and the colony that is first in business, .will get most profit. Coining now-to the second law of grazing, I may say at "the outset that its aim'is to •■ obtain greatest produce from the pastures.: It is.directly opposed:td bare fields. These dismal sights are not justified; I believe by an. practical or theoritical consideration; and 1 think it is merely the overcaution or fear to risk a change produced by hard times that permits them still to disgrace our pasturing ; but as fairly rich men can also show bare fields, we cannot attri* bute them to one single cause. There seems to have been no incentive save in recent years -to study grazing, and this makes it easier for one to believe his suspicions of radical error in the present system, and to attribute to bare fields the bankruptcies!, forced and clearing sales, and very hard living, that have clouded, for many years the winters over .vlargo portion of the plsr.ris". So far m our modi urn and lighter larijtn-. arc conconiw? the effects of overgrazing 1 lwii:e a year are seen in the vanishing of the finer sorts from a pasture at about the third summer and the wearing out of the rest at the jfourt'h or fifth^; a sjate of things gro!3sly opposed to the accepted principle that grazing improved a pasture, and to the fact of the wonderful advantage derived from variety of grasses^ and if a fourth of a farm is to be jn Boot afld : . grain in the future, and, hence a field ont of grass for about three years, thedife of a pasture will have to be nine years —an impossibility unless fairly grazed., , „. - { „,.,., t .- " \ Valuable facts'relating^ to J the production of grass may be got, I believe, from the waste places about the homestead, from the grass fjlot and the farm yard.,. ,A grass plot that as been nioreof less'under my notice since its formation a dozen years ago, had for ten 1 year? a rate of pboduceMouble or more, that 6f the neighbouring fields. At the same time it stood, through not being eaten to the heart, the severe treatment of having two .mowings a year, raked .off, and the only aid in compensation,,was'.'aYtopdressing about two years after forming. The adjacent large farm-yard:• is.stills,wel^' gr?asedf after eleven or twelve years" of fair grazing j' and not manured, save of course around the stables and sheds. Finally, over grazing causes;delay of one to three weeks in the spring and autumn growth, (a field that has been lightly grazed being much quicker to sprout than others) and those few weeks are the most valuable in the whole year. I have not been able to get about and gather further practical facts with respect to over-grazing than the above, but these appear sound, and each farmer can draw more from his own experience. Let 1$ now turn to elementary science and strike the key! note of the whole matter. How does grass grow ? I believe most people will say from the root, will say the root provides fresh green blades, seed-stem, seeds and all. Now J believe there is no better known fact iri botany than the growth of grass from the blade,and that &11 plant life, save some; of the lowest, as lichens, grows by the action of sunlight or, .carbonic' acid in the green cells of the blade, or.* leaf,' and that the function of the root is to carry' moisture and mineral matter (which includes the useful portion in manure), to the green' parts. The food of a plant is moisture,] mineral matter, and the carbonic acid of the air. The seat of digestion is the green part and in the process the dead inorganic food is raised to the rank of organic living matter by the energy of sunlight.. acting along with the liviiig'power of the plant., If the plant Is'dried and burnti or it it is* eaten by an animal and used in work on animal heat, its matter falls again to thedead inorganic state. The.luxurjant growths on. a rwell rotted "manure heap is due to,' abundance of mineral matter proper for| plants, and the supply of mineral matter^ may operate more than is usually supposed in producing the different ra.te,s qf growth,' even,. on" a p}ot kept regularly moist, in, spring, slimmer, and autumn—common facts that are still very differently explained by p,ur authorities, and may therefore be regarded as yet unexplained. The autumn growth on the grass plots above referred to was not a sixth of the spripg growth, and one is led to wonder if it is useless to hope for a food retaining juice through the summer and for something better than

commpu grasses in the autumn; If we accept the position that blade produce!" Wade, we are lmund, I think, to conclude the larger the blade the greater the daily produce able to be fed off, and that bare, ■- grazing totals the least amount of grass- ! Every one knows, of course, that there is a . limit, that grass, will not grow to an unlimited length, but if we can catch the | stage at which the blades are just large enough to make use of as;,much mineral matter as the roots can supply, we shall have the theoretical standard of best depth - of grass at-whichapasture shoaldaHJwipt for greatest production. At a guess Iwould put it at about three inches deep> f depending on the generaf moißtnesS of the season for land wortb.,2o bushels of wheat per acre, j^ore fertile soil ..would maintain a greater depth, and in general each locality -would need its own ( determining. ■,< To accept as>f' law, the maintaining of long grass^ecesaitatei «jjb «■' easily seen, to" accept also, the first'law, , which 1 enjoins' 'artificial ' feeding•^hiring/' seasons of Jno growth?'and:'the tw'ypr.k together in perfect harmony. In actual practice loss by trampling would have to' be considered if grass wire above,;.three*^iohes deep; and on this account it appears to be a certainty that rich lands cannot be-grace^ to yield their best theoretical produce olrgrass. The third ,law.is r notjo£ sucl^prvnary mv pdrtarice as the; first 'or the' iicondtl It merely needs statement, 1 as it is simply a matter for common sense. We cannot be :s&&o£ growing a' regular «upply> of artificial food oiiraobouhtLbfirfegnlar; seasons. Hay is the most regular, but oats and ; turnips. ,fwilL, ,varyi .rl 1 suppO^rJOOg-per cent,in,..yield, indifferent; jearß,. Therefore on behalf ,:,of j^urate j.sy^tenj^ it seems to me..the,"right '.thing.'to^roy^oe an amount of artificial food usually in re^c«M of '.'.•'IXrY requirements: 1 This 'grOutid'lOfoe i-i'-i-- <'■" the^Kird laV; inifsp farjfe'grating alone' is concerned, I'ti&v^no't foditd matter for any further 'laws f thannthe ihreerriow given.' 1 •••-••• "'■";■• >•;■■: ;i) hL\>,<->\j:-*,:'1... (■Sheep farming:; when;! developed .. to .the third' i stage . is more complicated -than- grain-growing.;. and,.„ the ...scientific treatment oi it will include separate and distinct chapters on each of the - following'^graises] grafing, artificial feeding, sheep.'and^marketjj. TThe laws of grazing, therefore, though of great importance, yet form but a fraction^of (the i?hble;ißubject, and there, id .clearly, plenty [pi room for associated work, , public writing and unlimited study. . Lmay-xsay-Ii have these papers with'-great care,. f in the hope that they may be looked upon as standard, and with the feeling'that they, tend f in the , sadAe way W' the 'wave 'BrßgtWfc* in- sheep farinSng that 1 is ''coining-' upon'Tus, bearing us to the higher leveL't'l'teßHeve they are sound, science, and that with ordinary health and strength I could have added many'ifacts, but'not altered any of the principles. It is rather oppressive at times to find oneself standing almost alone preaching revolution in the universal practice > of sucfra tough race as. the (^tedbury formera; ' but jl h^ye the, jSjfi^pathv oLfrienda, and I rely on supporters cooling' forwarcC* pohlicly^,, A clear view makes a firm stand, and there is no way back. Our flag is raised;' our niotto is anti-bare fields. , Summing up; '6ur-pjosition is', tTisU? it is quite time "we largely increased 1 our production of prime mutton; that this increase necessitates a change .jnr-ourf method of grazing ; that the change should take place in the direction of the* following,' which I 'call ',' V J\'v- vF f,V '■'.'.' 'THE LAWS OF «BAZEfCt. f '}^> . ■(I)',' Sheep ' should be, taken 'from 'the pastures and fed artificially during times of -nO'growth of grass.' ■ ■ •;■■■ '■ '"'- •>'»' •■ ■' i.;i ? •' 2. .Pastures should be, maintained'at the most productive depth of grass ascertaihable ' for each,district.'., „..)■ .-/c:;;'j - !'i' -,'\ >;\ ; 3. The supply of artificial food (Bhpuld ; be sufficient to meet occasional ■- failures,. in the artificial crop. • , . „ "....'.* „ ,V '.."! Olf THE, FORMATION-, OF FABMBES'.; ASWWIA- ,'•' ' ','•. TIONS./'.',, '._',' '* :,.S'''r,';-:' " As the public plus form is not nv.iilable to me at present, I lake the privilege to write some plans for a most important movement towards .the improvement pf JJ"cw Zealand agriculture. I,think is time thatiarmera joined the rest bf the world in' progress by means of Associations' work. Associations seem the leading feature of thJB marvellous, age. Every movement,' business, project, or reform, to be supported, and, pushed along by' Associations, iCompany, 1 'qr "union. Of course Cantcrßu'rjris' no 'exception,,with its various A. v and P. Associations, 'VhS» annual shows aVethe'prideof"tKe Projinice; with its School of 'Agricdlture," its •o6im<Ty journal, and agricultural columns; biifc there is little or no unifying spirit among these, no sort of vitality working through them idL 1 Our, only regular -diffusive agency, reaching the or-linary. farmer, :4s,^e.^weekjy-fpaper, ' and we haVe no collecting centralising agency saye Our Q\7n Correspondents. Farmers' Associations in^every sohool district will suppjy perfeptly, these 1 wants and , more than these/ 'Every farmer knows well the gain he would get from hearing his; neighbor's views^ahd from haying access to a nice little library of agriculture books and periodicals and weeklies. I need not refer to this; ,but would like. to rsay alitfcle about agricultural .instructions; in schools. New • Zealand...^liall^ngi sadly, -behind 1 the old countries., Irelandr has - attended to i the matter for many .years,' "thongli Lthe' g^od effects somehow seem to have <been cholted. With regard to' Scotland the following quotation will be sufficient. .It.concludes.Prof. Wallace's' preface-to' th^ f latest OPettP 1890) book on grasses, by Prof. MadAipin¥;*iEflfaiburgh (DavidiDdiuglaa^ ;10'&stle St., Edinburgh, 3s 6d net), and reads thus:— V . '?' It willlormconeiof^the Sndift ioffiplete guides,to a system of Object Lessons in country scb,oo]|B thajfihwfibew, bffered to the . public; and I may be. permitted to add that arrangements -have already, beenrntade^to . ■ 'place it in the possession of'the mftmbl^'of the Institute oLScottish. Teachers of Agriculture, who,< dnring'the; _ current winter, have over two thousand boys and young men ; under jtnstruc^oji jn, the)principlesjpf; Agxi- i culture in the rural.dißtricte .of .Scotlfni" England also.haSjWaJkeri^d up^ r. by Mr .'• Coflings, M;P.>.is npvr before.the Hoo^e of Coihmons, supported' aa the'. v times Vjßtys •» by all parties, „ Ifeprovidek' for4n«t^ctibn in the primary '^choow'in' rthe'-rona#ing sulw ject?';^- \;; h, >'<: &m:nrv rr^iii '' : (1) Fruit, flowejp,i and, vegetable growing. (2) Poultry; bee, and pig keeping. j (3)>Budding,,pruning, planifcing, and,prdpagatmg. r ..;. .„ „ ' ',""y .yrTn^A (4) The rotation"of garden drops. Xt"l, ■ . ■ (5) The najfcure and propertiea,of soilg,. T - ;'<B);Tlieuseofjnanu rresr -? s 1--1 ■ 1 ■' (7) The knowledgeand choice of seed*.-8 (8) Thestructut-e and life otplant*. (9) The action of birds and ■: insects on crops. ini;,\\-y, i~tf T <)'':'/"<\' '.. .- (10) The'choice and use of simple tools; and (11) The packing of fruit, vegetables, etc., for market. 3 L>i t 'f' L ■• •■ c•• j.li. . - It is evident .therefore i thafc)TOchT^p|rtpiction is in the near fatore for the Coloniei, and it will come 'sooner if it come aa a request ~ from the people themselves through their Associations. And/what better aidjeould be given to tHe School of A^ricultnrf— hot to j speak .of /the country, journaf *nd the!, weekly papers—than country districts pervat\ed by tAssooiations! in idirect co-opera-tion with it, and controlling also. farm >' schools which would be preparatory insti- 1; tutions for it and the fittest places for ;!.; secondary instonctipn 1 for^boys •and«gir|a > : leaving the primary schools 'in lconntry districts. To start an Association five or six, or even two'or three, without respect ' of sex or position, are sufficient. The . following general motions may then be passed:— YV" , ■ (1) That persons present form a'Farmer's Association in this district of —r—-, giving consideration to the principles and practice of agriculture, to instruction in the same, V' and to questions touching the Interests of, "/ farmers. v ■ -'." . ■„;'',•.'. (2) That until further needs the'"subscription be the nominal one of , the sole officer the Secretary.; thai;„ meetings be monthly, and also at [ special ; chll irom the Secretary.-. . ■•' ( <\ :. <» i ■ (3) That membership be open t«j all ■ " interested: \':'.' • ]:<:/■ ''.'■/. '■•', 1 ''' \ ; .(4) .That a suitable agricultriral 1 libraryibe formed and speoial contributions be called in ■ support, and ul»o to defray expense* incurred . 'by rule. 16. ' . .".-;.,.' ■! ' (5) That this Association join with otbejrt to appoint a Secretary for the county. ■ ,„ (6) The Oouiity Secretary shall, be Usual means of' correspondence for Diitriet Associations, and shall prepare for printing at expen^of.liJistriqtrAssocia^^wi annual report compiled from annual reports of tha ■ District Associations. (7) District Ajwoeiations shall gtatfeif

onpporfc to the County A. and P. Association and when it appears feasible shall institute farm schools for the secondary instruction of pupils leaving the primary schools and for preparation for the School of Agriculture. These fertilising ideas -will do to make a start, to get things ship-shape on paper, and time will develop substance. They appeal to our best thoughts and hopes, and if tried it will not fail to enlarge the prosperity and happiness of ourselves and the nation.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900618.2.16

Bibliographic details

SHEEP FEEDING., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2444, 18 June 1890

Word Count
2,981

SHEEP FEEDING. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2444, 18 June 1890

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