The clovers furnish a ration more nearly in balance than
almost any other kind of food. If the animals to which they are fed
could consume enough of them to produce the desired end, concentrated
foods would not be wanted. They are so
bulky, however, relatively, that
to horses and mules at work, to dairy cows in milk and cattle that are
being fattened, to sheep under similar conditions, and to swine, it is
necessary to add the concentrated grain foods, more or less, according
to the precise object. But for horses, mules, cattle, sheep and goats
that are growing subsequent to the weaning stage, and for mature animals
of these respective classes not producing, that is, not yielding
returns, a good quality of clover hay will suffice for a considerable
time at least without the necessity of adding any other food.
It is considered inferior to timothy as a fodder for horses. This
preference is doubtless owing largely to the fact, first, that clover
breaks up more and loses more leaves when being handled, especially when
being transported; and second, that clover is frequently cured so
imperfectly as to create dust from over-fermentation or through breaking
of the leaves, because of being over-dried, and the dust thus created is
prejudicial to the health of these animals. It tends to produce
heaves. This may in part be obviated by sprinkling the hay before it
is fed. When clover is properly cured, it is a more nutritious hay than
timothy, and is so far preferable for horses, but since timothy
transports in much better form, it is always likely to be more popular
in the general market than clover. The possibility of feeding clover to
horses for successive years without any evils resulting is made very
apparent from feeding alfalfa thus in certain areas of the West.
Clover hay is specially useful as a fodder for milk-producing animals,
owing to the high protein content which it contains. Dairymen prefer it
to nearly all kinds of fodders grown, and the same is true of shepherds.
When very coarse, however, a considerable proportion of the stems is
likely to be left uneaten, especially by sheep. Because of this it
should be the aim to grow it so that this coarseness of stem will not be
present. This is accomplished, first, by growing it thickly, and second,
by growing the clovers in combination with one another and also with
certain of the grasses.
Clovers are especially helpful in balancing the ration where corn is the
principal food crop grown. The protein of the clover crop aids greatly
in balancing the excess of carbo-hydrates in the corn crop, hence much
attention should be given to the production of clovers in such areas.
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