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It appears that dairies, on the north side of the Mohawk river, have suffered more than those on the south side, in about the same altitude.
Again, the disliculty has prevailed more in the valley of the West Canada creek than in the Mohawk valley. The cause of this trouble has been attributed to various circumstances; but facts are continually contradicting theories.
Theory No. 1, attributed the abortion, in the first place, to accident, and the contimuance, in the same herd, to sympathy. It was, therefore, recommended to remove the cow from the herd with as little delay as possible, and to cleanse the stable. But this failed to relieve the dairymen from the difficulty. In other cases, the cow was not removed from the stable, and no new cases, or but few, occurred afterward in the herd.
Another theory, No. 2, attributes the trouble to too crowded and warm stables, a want of cleanliness, and a deficiency in ventilation.
However plausible this may appear, facts, being placed on the witness stand, disprove this theory emphatically. They tell us that farmers, haring the best arranged stables as to cleanliness and ventilation, have had their share of losses; and the dairy herd occupying stables in barns, boarded “up and down," without battens, leaving spaces between the boards, giving abundance of ventilation all around, has by no means escaped.
In short, we find dairies affected in stables of all kinds; and even cows often abort in the fall, before being put into the stable for winter, or fed on hay.
No. 3, claims that the cause is in old dairy farms having been cropped so long, that the soil is robbed of the ingredients that are required for the healthy organization of the young; and this is plausible. But, unfortunately for this theory, facts are as stubborn in this case as the other; for it is plainly proved, by this reliable witness, that some of the oldest dairy farms in the county have been entirely exempt, while other dairies, on farms of similar location, soil and water, have had cases of serious loss; and these losses have occurred on the farms along the West Canada creek, that are in a sheltered situation, and upon the bigh lands in Fairfield, Norway and Russia, and other upland towns.
No. 4, thinks that June grass, or rather the hay containing ergot, produces the difficulty; but our old witness tells us that the trouble is not at all confined to June grass farms.
No. 5, has found, to his satisfaction, that surface manuring meadows, with manure from the cow-stable, produces the perplexity.
No. 6, that sowing plaster on pasture lands, during the feeding season, has a bad tendency; but this witness says that both these practices are common, without detriment to the stock, and increasing the fertility of both pasture and meadow.
No. 7, is quite sure that the disease was communicated first to the bull by a cow that had recently aborted, and by the bull to healthy cows that he may chance to serve in the course of a few weeks. This theory has gained some supporters, but is generally discarded.
No. 8, tells us that it is an internal disease, but fails to tell us what produces that disease.
One fact, in connection with this, is worthy of note—that cows that have aborted, in this county, and have been bought by eastern men, and taken to Massachusetts, and put on farms for fattening, where the disease is not known among their native stock, carry the disease with them, and many of them abort there as here. So that the causes above, could not have produced a continuance of the trouble.
Again, we find that farmers who have had the most experience in these misfortunes, are at the greatest loss as to the cause; and so with me. The more I have consulted with men of experience, and the farther my inquiries have extended, I have only been made more and more sure of the uncertainty of the cause, and therefore my report is more negative than positive. I have not been able to come to any conclusion of my own as to the real cause. As precautions—comfortable, well ventilated stables are recommended; and if any cases occur, it is advisable to remove all exciting causes beyond the possibility of influence, and keep the diseased cow separate from the other cows, and likewise from the bull that is intended to be with the cows of the dairy.
Although your committee has been successful only in finding uncertainties, it is recommended to continue the investigation, hoping that some theory may be presented that will not be contradicted by facts.
S. S. WHITMAN.
By Hon. Lester Greene. To the Farmers' Club of Little Falls:
Your committee, to whom was referred the investigation of the disease of abortion among the cows in this county and vicinity, by personal observation and inquiry, have endeavored to fulfill that duty.
It appears the disease first made its appearance in the dairy of Mason Morey, in the town of Fairfield, in this county, in the spring of 1852. That spring he had 13 cows drop their calves prematurely. In the spring of '53 he had 17 cases. That fall he sold off his entire dairy, and removed from under his stables about 100 loads of manure, leaving a space for the free circulation of air. In the spring of '54 he again stocked his farm with cows, and had no trouble until the spring of '61. He that winter banked up his stables; that spring he lost eleven.
The disease in that section of the county has assumed proportions that are cause of alarm to dairymen.
1 The causes of the disease assigned are almost as various as those giving them. It is said by some that lands kept in dairying for many years lose some ingredient necessary to the full development of the calf-by some that cows being injured, lose their calves, and others by sympathy follow until it assumes a disease-some that the great number of cows kept in this section is the cause. Others again, that it is propagated by the bull. It will be observed by the following report that there is ground for most, if not all, these opinions, taking individual dairies; but what in one would appear conclusive, would in another appear quite the reverse.
The general impression is that cows should be removed immediately, as they are very offensive.
It will be observed by the descriptions given of the stables and their location, that they are of all kinds, from the best finished basements to the old dilapidated ones that are about to be rebuilt; and farther, that dairies that were all in one barn were no more affected than those that were divided and but few together.
One peculiarity mentioned by most of the dairymen visited, was that a short time after cows dropping their calves they would be in heat again, in some instances the same day. Another was that dairies in which the disease appeared one season, it would appear the following season among cows purchased during the year, and not among cows that had been on the farm for years.
The dairies visited were in the order in which they are entered in the following report.
April 18th, 1863, visited the dairy of James Bates, in the town of St. Johnsville, in Montgomery Co., who has two dairies, both under his own supervision, one of 50 and the other of 46 cows, situated about 1 1-2 miles apart. In the winter of 1861, he had one case of abortion ; in November of the same year, before drying off his cows, they commenced dropping their calves, and continued until in March following there were twenty, all, with one exception, in one dairy. The past winter he has had but one case.
Particular pains were taken to learn the difference in the location of the two places, or difference in the treatment of the two dairies. The barns, at the residence of Mr. Bates, are located in a dry, airy place, the stables above ground, with a space of eight feet between the floors, well ventilated, with running water eight or ten rods from the barn. In this dairy there has been but one case. In the other, the barn was, up to last summer, located in a low, muddy place, had become dilapidated, and filth had accumulated to quite an extent under the stables. The last summer be built anew, after the plan of those at his residence, as to space and ventilation. The treatment of the two dairies is intended to be alike.
The pastures are red and white clover and timothy; do June grass of any amount. The meadows the same. The water in that section is hard lime water.
Cows would invariably make bag for a few days, and show other signs of coming in. In some cases, the calf showed signs of disease, and was dead; others were alive and appeared sound; would live for a short time and die—his cows would be in heat again in about three days, being in the first place his best and strongest cows. With the exception of two, these cows were turned off-one has done well this spring, the other is farrow.
Mr. Bates uses a large amount of plaster, cuts his hay early, and feeds his stock high. There were no other cases found in that section.
The next dairy visited was that of William Greene, in the town of Danube. In the winter of 1862, he had four cases in his dairy; all of which were kept and milked through the season, and have done well this season. The past winter he has had eight cases; the first in January. In this case, the cow was allowed to lick the calf; the cow immediately sickened, and in a few days died. He has been careful since to prevent the cow getting
to the calf. Some of the calves were dead, but generally alive. He is milling his cows, and is intending to keep them. Says he could tell, three or four days before, what cows would fail, by their peculiar offensive breath, which would leave them after a few days.
The barns, in this case, are old-standing well from the ground, not very tight, and well ventilated above. Water about fifteen rods from the barn—not very hard. Pastures, clover and timothy; meadows the same; uses plenty of plaster. Was advised to feed sulphur; since then has had
Has been dairying eight or ten years. The cows in this dairy are stabled in different barns. Some standing with heads together, with room to feed between, others with one row of cows; neither being exempt. This was the only dairy in that town affected.
George Lotridge, living in the town of Little Falls, has a dairy of forty Cows. In the winter of sixty-two, had nine cows drop their calves; the past winter has had seven. Part of those failing in sixty-two were put off; those retained have all done well this spring. Those failing this season have been on the farm less than a year-- brought in from a distance.
The stables on this farm are in the basement of the barn, walled up with limestone, facing the south, with double doors at the end, and plenty of windows on the south side, with openings to feed from above, causing good ventilation. Pastures, white clover, principally. Meadows, clover and timothy; been dairying about fifteen years; has used his present stables for eight or ten years.
Josiah Rankins, living about one mile from Mr. Lotridge, in the same town, had fourteen cases the past winter, being the first. His stables are new, having been built the past summer, in the basement of his barn; walled with limestone, facing the north, with folding doors at each end, and plenty of windows on the north side; good space between floors; cows standing with heads to the wall, and space between, sufficient to drive a team.
The three last dairies were the only ones found on the south side of the river.
James Weatherwax, of the town of Manheim, has a dairy of forty cows; in November of sixty-two, had one cow drop her calf while he was absent from home. The cow remained in the stable for a few days, until his return, when she was removed. In about two weeks, had another case, which was immediately removed; in about two weeks, another, after which it was almost a daily occurrence, until he had twenty-eight, eleven of which were retained in the dairy. All have done well this spring; has had but
The stable, in this case, is nearly new, built above ground, with seven feet space between floors; double doors at each end, with sufficient space to drive between; cows standing with heads to the wall. No windows, and with the doors closed would be very dark and tight. The past winter he has been very particular to give them air, by leaving the doors opposite wide open, and keeping them out more through the day; otherwise his treatment the same as formerly. His pastures are white clover and timo! thy; meadows the same; feeds high.
Mr. Broat, who owns the adjoining farm, has had several cases this season, being the first.
The dairies of H. Burrill, in the town of Salisbury, in the winters of sixty-one and two, were more or less troubled; but the past season there have been but few cases. Thinking it might be caused by the location of buildings, had, in some instances, moved them.
In the town of Fairfield, the most of the dairymen have suffered more or less, although some farms visited, that had been in dairying since the commencement of the business in this county, had not been affected at all.
Mr. Rice, living near the village of Fairfield, has new and well ventilated, but warm barns; has had a number of cases this season; this dairy was all in one stable.
Mr. Teall, owning the adjoining farm, whose barns are all old, standing well from the ground, quite open, had seven the past winter; a few the
Mr. Whitney, adjoining Mr. Teall, whose barns are old, standing low and quite open, has not had a single case; the water and soil in these three cases are very similar.
Reuben Neely has, at his residence, a basement stable, with windows on both sides, and ventilators overhead; bas had several cases this season, the first a two-year old of his own raising. On another farm, where the stables are above ground, has the same difficulty; the management of his dairies the same as formerly, except better keeping.
Mr. Neely has taken particular pains in getting up his barns and stables in a neat and desirable manner, and with particular attention to the comfort of his stock.
David Ford, living near Middleville, in the town of Fairfield, keeps from forty to fifty cows; has been troubled more or less nearly every year for the past seven or eight years. Some seasons nearly half of his cows have failed; the past season but few; these stables are good, standing dry, not very tight; grass, clover and timothy. This is one of the oldest dairy farms in the county.
Mr. Ford mentions one winter having fed a quantity of clover, once a day, that was not well cured, but was thoroughly salted; that season he had
George W. Griswold has a dairy of twenty-five; has been troubled more or less for seven or eight years, except the past. In this dairy, some seasons would commence in September, and continue until June; his barns are good, pretty open, standing well from the ground.
Nicholas Smith, also in the vicinity of Middleville, has a dairy of twenty cows; has been troubled the same as the two former dairies visited. Mr. Smith takes pride in the appearance and condition of his cows; believes he makes as good, or a little better, and as much, or a little more, than his neighbors, from the same number of cows, as he sold, from his twenty cows, last season, thirteen thousand pounds of cheese.
The three last dairymen, in the fall of fifty-three, purchased cows of Mr. Morey, and the spring following it first made its appearance in these dairies.