Farm Collector Blogs > Looking Back

More Dairy Stories

by Sam Moore


Tags: national dairy month,

To continue this month’s dairy theme here are a couple of cow stories. 

Moo 

The following account of a large, for the time, dairy farm appeared in an 1850 edition of The Cultivator, a monthly farm paper that was published for many years in Albany, N.York. 

Addressed to the Editors of The Cultivator, the letter reads:  

“We have many times noticed in your paper, statements made by different writers of the profits of a dairy. Below we give you an account of the proceeds of our dairy for the year 1849, from forty-one cows, six of which were heifers, having their first calves the same season: 

 

Income 
41 calves, at four weeks old, $4 each $164.
3,748 lbs. cheese, at 9 cents per lb. $333.32
6,569 lbs. butter, best quality for table use, at 20 cts. per lb. $1,313.80
6,570 gallons, or 18 galls. per day, new milk, used on table, never skimmed at 3 cts. per quart $788.40
For manure $200. 
Total income amount $2,803.52
 

 

 

Expenses 
10 tons wheat bran, or ship stuff, at $10 per ton $100.
600 bushels beets at 1s per bushel $75.
62 tons hay, at $8 per ton $496.
26 weeks pasturing for 41 cows at 1s per week each $333.25
Slops from kitchen during the year $15. 
Net expenses $1,019.25
 

 

 

Total income $2,803.52
Deduct expenses $1,019.25 
Leaving a balance of $1,784.27
 

 

 

Average butter of each cow 160 lbs. 3-1/2 oz.
Average cheese of each cow 91 lbs. 6-1/2 oz.
Average milk of each cow* 160 gallons
*"The milk, it will be understood, is that which is used on table by boarders, never skimmed."

 

 

Add manure and calves, and the total amount for each cow is $68.37
Deduct expenses $24.86 
Net profit of each cow $43.51
 

 

“We prefer putting our cows in the stable while milking, at all seasons of the year. This affords an opportunity of messing twice a day, and is done regularly at time of milking, believing it is the best time. Wheat bran, or shorts, mixed with slops from the kitchen, or dairy, make a good feed for milch cows. (Author’s Note: We don't often hear of messing cows today, but one definition of mess is "a portion of soft or semiliquid food.")

“Some think it quite objectionable and very unnatural for cows to eat or drink whey and milk, but we see no good reason for such objections.

“We have practiced for some years feeding our cows the whey and skimmed milk from our dairy, mixed with wheat, buckwheat, or rye bran, and have never seen any injurious effects whatever - but, on the contrary, believe it to be very beneficial, and productive of good sweet milk and butter.

“It is very necessary for milch cows to be well supplied with good pure water, especially in the winter season when fed on dry fodder. We make it a practice of watering our cows twice a day, morning and night. This is given them in the stable, where they can drink at leisure, sheltered from cold and storm.”

The letter is signed: “Family of Jonathan Wood and Edward Fowler, numbering 130 persons. New Lebanon, Shaker Village.”

The Shaker Village was located near New Lebanon, N.Y., and the Wood and Fowler families apparently lived a communal life in a “Utopian” settlement where everyone labored for the common good and shared equally in the proceeds of that labor. This was the reason for such a large dairy herd, as most farmers in 1850 probably had no more than half a dozen cows.

I thought today’s dairy farmers might get a kick out of comparing their operations to that of the Shakers more than 150 years ago.

Automated milk manufacturing machine 

Then, on a lighter note:

The Cow: She's a Miracle 

By Anonymous

A cow is a fully automated milk manufacturing machine. It is encased in untanned leather and is mounted on four vertical movable supports, one on each corner.

The front end of the machine contains the intake, grinding and cutting mechanism, as well as headlights, dog catchers, air intake and exhaust, a bumper and foghorn.

Underneath, the machine carries the milk-dispensing apparatus and, at the rear, an automatic fly swatter and insect repeller.

The large central portion houses a hydro-chemical conversion plant, consisting of four fermentation and storage tanks connected in series by an intricate network of flexible plumbing. This plant converts hay and grain into a white fluid called milk, along with a large amount of waste.

The waste disposal apparatus is located at the rear of this central section (under the fly swatter) and should be approached with caution. Cows are available in an assortment of sizes and colors. Milk production ranges from three to fifteen tons per year.

In brief, the main externally visible features of a cow are: two lookers, two hookers, four stander-uppers, four hang-downers, and a swishy-wishy.

The dairyman often discovers that, while manipulating the hang-downers to extract the milk, the swishy-wishy is used for other purposes than swatting flies.

There is a somewhat similar machine known as the bull, which should not be confused with the cow. It produces no milk, but has other interesting uses.