Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dairy Business Growing in 1949

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, as published in the Aug. 25, 1949 issue of the Sanford Herald

The folks are saying that North Carolina farmers bought over 5,000 Holstein cows, grade and purebred, from Wisconsin, Canada, or from any other place that they could be found in 1948.

One man from Robeson County wanted to get started in the dairy business so badly that he went after a plane load himself and brought them back in one day.

If a man lives along the milk route, well and good. If he doesn’t, he skims the cream from his milk, keeps the skim milk at home for his pigs and chickens, and pockets the $25 a month that he gets from the sale of sour cream. That’s not big income, of course, but he is no big operator. Such men grow tobacco or other cash crops and depend for their main farm income on these crops. The income from milking three or four cows is extra. It’s gravy, so to speak.

North Carolina has been earning lots of gravy in the last few years as men who own land find that they can milk cows, keep pigs, raise chickens, and yet grow the same crops that they always did. One is surprised that they have not done this long ago.

The average tobacco allotment in North Carolina is not over 4 acres to the farm. That doesn’t use much land. It is true that a peak load of hard work occurs when the crop is to be planted, when it is topped and suckered, and again when it is harvested, cured, and sorted. Even so, tending only 4 acres of tobacco does not use the whole time of the family to advantage.

Therefore, it is becoming increasingly easy to get a cow or two and start a small milking herd. The milk route comes down the highway right by the front door and the checks come back each two weeks. They help to put the family on a cash basis.

Keeping cows is not such hard work, especially if one sells grade “C” milk for processing purposes. It’s a little more difficult when the change is made to grade “A”. This difficulty is rewarded by the premium price paid for such milk and the difference in price will soon pay for the grade “A” barn required. North Carolina built more of those grade “A” barns last year than any other state east of the Mississippi River, and that includes New York, Pennsylvania, and some of the other dairy states. The little Tar Heel county of Alleghany alone built over 100.

Again, keeping cows is not such work because of the new pasture crops being developed. The people of Davidson are calling their Ladino clover, orchard grass, and fescue pasture “acres of diamonds” now because of the wonderful grazing afforded. There are also winter grazing mixtures comprised of small grains, rye grass, and crimson clover. Then there are summer grazing crops such as lespedeza, soybeans, and kudzu. If a man arranged his rotation properly, he could keep his cows grazing for almost 12 months and they would hold up in milk flow in winter. Some men who have tried it say that winter grazing crops will provide more milk than a summer pasture.

As these new things continue to spread over North Carolina and acre production is increased, the folks make up their minds to live better. That’s one of the great accomplishments of recent years. A farm family is no longer concerned with farming to make a living. It is primarily concerned with living better on the farm. That’s why one hears so much these days about yard beautification, running water, central heat, closet space, and the latest comforts of good living. Small fruits, berries, and grape vines will be planted this winter about many a farm home because the owners think that these are just as important as wide fields of crops.

If one were to keep a record of the shows and sales of purebred hogs, cows, and poultry, he would find that something of this kind is occurring almost every day. The fat stock shows have proved that North Carolina can grow and feed as fine a quality of beef as can be produced in the mid-West. It is a fact that buyers from that part of the country have begun to come to this state to get breeding blood of almost all kinds of livestock.

Keeping cows is not such hard work because folks are learning how to grow corn. It’s no novelty to grow 100 bushels to the acre since the new five-step plan was adopted and since the folks have learned about hybrid seed and ample fertilization. Just plant so as to have so many corn stalks on the land and then feed the corn so that it will produce 100 bushels. It’s almost a matter of simple arithmetic. Randolph County has over 100 farmers who are members of North Carolina’s famed 100 Bushel Corn Club.

It’s hard to find good cows. That’s one of the great troubles about this expanding dairy business. Not only are prospective dairymen buying cows where they can find them, but they have begun to raise their dairy calves. It used to be smart to sell them for veal. Now the really smart man raises them as replacements in his own herd or to sell them to neighbors.

These new cows raised at home can be a good blood because a chapter of the artificial breeding association has been organized in most of the counties where the livestock population will warrant such interest. This means that the man with only two or three cows can use the latest breeding methods to build up the quality of his future cattle.

Lots of men are not looking for cows. They are looking for ways in which to control the black shank or other plant diseases in their fields. They are dusting their peanuts to control leaf spot or treating the seed so that they may get a full stand at the first planting.

They are testing out new chemical poisons for boll weevil so that they may get back into the cotton game successfully. Some 451 cotton growers entered the five-acre contest in 1948 and produced over 800 pounds of lint cotton per acre. They learned a lot about closer spacing, better fertilizing, and boll weevil control

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