THE DAIRYING INDUSTRY.
The Government have at length appointed an expert to instruct the New Zealand settlers in the art and craft of dairying. We had understood that the Agent-General was commissioned to send out a properly-qualified instructor from Home; but the appointment has been given—it is to be hoped for good reasons —to a local man — namely, Mr Saweks, of the 1 Waiareka Dairy Factory. If Mr Sawers is a capable instructor, and has the requisite energy and enthusiasm, his services will be of immense value to the Colony. It is astonishing, and not more astonishing than deplorable, how few settlers can manufacture butter and cheese of firstrate quality. A great many people have taken to farming in the Colony who know little about it; and though it is a common belief that anybody could farm, the fact is that good farmers are the exception rather than the rule. Want of proper instruction is, however, the principal cause of unprofitable farming. Much is lost through carelessness or neglect, but more through ignorance. As this remark applies to all kinds of farming, it is especially applicable to mixed farming, which is practised by the bulk of our settlers. It requires more know ledge and skill than is commonly supposed to carry on a small farm to the best advantage. In former times, when the ground was scratched with a wooden plough, and the same routine followed generation after generation, farming was a simple business enough; but it is very different now that scientific methods must be adopted to ensure success. And one reason—the main reason, indeed—why so many of our settlers have to go through the Bankruptcy Court, or abandon their homesteads, is the absence of necessary qualifications for their calling. The pro dues of the dairy especially requires skilful and delicate handling. The export of Irish butter, for instance, has increased wonderfully in value since the peasantry in some parts of the country began to receive instruction from experts trained in the new Agricultural College. Ireland has for generations exported large quantities of butter, and fairly good butter too ; but the producers are only now getting their eyes opened to the fact that it is not nearly so good as it might and ought to be. A great improvement has already taken place, and the increased return of the exports is the best possible testimony to the value of proper instruction. Still, the improvement is, so far, confined to certain districts; and if Irish butter is to hold its own against Danish and French, the small farmers will have to give up their old use and wont methods and adopt those taught in the schools of agriculture. As a rule, the Irish peasantry had no idea of the need of cleanliness in dairying. The same thing, indeed, may be said of the peasantry of a good many other countries. To make them good buttermakers would thus be to raise them in the scale of civilisation, for there is no surer mark of barbarism than uncleanly habits. The defect we have just mentioned is unfortunately not unknown in New Zealand, where the amount of bad butter produced is almost past belief. It is in fact difficult, or rather impossible, to get good butter in many parts of the Colony. Nowhere is there greater need for instruction; and, as no country in the Southern Hemisphere is better fitted for dairying, the Government could not have created a more useful office than that to which we have referred. We presume Mr Sawers will deliver lectures, more or less colloquial, to the settlers all over the country. A very little simple instruction would soon have a wonderful effect in improving the quality of the produce. But we suspect the time is fast passing when butter and cheese will be made in the settler’s dairy, which too often was, and still is in many cases, a stuffy room, in which it would be scarcely possible to breathe without a feeling of suffocation. When it is considered that milk is one of the most delicate substances in the world, it is little wonder that there should be so much bad butter. The dairy factory, however, is evidently destined practically to supersede the farmer’s dairy, and that at no distant date. As yet more cheese than butter is made at the factories; but the necessities of the age will soon cause most of our butter to be made there, too. For colonial butter, as well as Irish, will have to compete in the London market with the produce of the pastures of SchleswigHolstein; and unless it is even in quality, and that quality excellent, it would be of little or no use exporting it. As a matter of fact, a large amount of what has hitherto been sent Home has been sold at ridiculously low prices. It is thus not only a loss to the shippers to export butter that is of less value than grease, but it gives the colony a bad name, and tends seriously to injure a very promising trade. New Zealand pastures are superior to those which produce the famous Danish butter; and there is no reason, except in the want of care or skill, why our butter should not also be equally good. We are not sure that the very best hand-made butter is not better than the very best the factories can turn out; but there is not the slightest doubt that the average quality of factory butter is much superior to the average quality of what is manipulated in homestead dairies. Even supposing, however, that all our butter and cheese were made in factories, this would not do away with the need for a Government
instructor. The factory managers are mot all experts, and Mr Savers will mo doubt devote a good p&L t of his ■attention to teaching them the best way of conducting their operations. It is of the utmost importance that •our daily produce, which is certain to be one of our most valuable exports, should, as soon as possible, acquire a reputation worthy of the Colony. This it has certainly not yet done ; but the rapid increase in the number of factories in nil dairying districts would seem to justify the hope that New Zealand butter and cheese will soon take the lead in the Home market This, at least, is a hope which it is not unreasonable to entertain, if any reliance is to be placed on the reports of experts who have visited the Colony, We would suggest that the 'Government instructor should act also as an inspector. The Government ought, in the interest of the country at large, to see that the factories are conducted in a proper manner. It is of course the interest of the proprietors of these establishments to keep a sharp eye on the management; but abuses are more apt to creep in where no regular or responsible inspection obtains. Wc have noticed, for instance, that piggeries are in some coses, indeed in most cases, ominously near the factories—a most objectionable arrangement. Careful inspection is, in fact, equally necessary as instruction.
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THE DAIRYING INDUSTRY., Evening Star, Issue 8022, 26 September 1889
THE DAIRYING INDUSTRY. Evening Star, Issue 8022, 26 September 1889
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