Gardening Articles

Value Of The Potato As Cattle Food

The constituents of the potato are according to different authorities, as follows: Water 75.2 Casein

1.4 Starch 15.5 Dextrine 0.4 Sugar 3.2 Fat 0.2 Fibre 3.2 Mineral matter 0.9 Or economically: Water 75.2 Flesh-formers 1.4 Fat-formers 18.9 Accessories 3.6 Mineral matter 0.9 Of the high value of potatoes, when used in connection with other food, there is not a shadow of doubt. All experimenters and observers in the economy of food agree in saying that they are of the highest utility; but they must be used with other food whose constituents are different from those of the root. The analysis shows that potatoes surpass in the fat-producing principles the nutritious or flesh-forming in such proportions that they could not alone sustain the composition of the blood; for an animal fed alone on these tubers would be obliged to consume such quantities to provide the blood with the requisite proportion of albumen that, even if the process of digestion were not discontinued, there would be a superabundance of fat accumulated beyond the power of the oxygen to consume, which would successively absorb from the albuminous substance a part of its vital elements, and thus a check would be caused in the endless change of matter in the tissues in the nutritive and regressive transformations. Potatoes, then, to be of most value as food for cattle, should be fed in connection with grain, or with other roots in which the flesh-forming element predominates. There seems to be no doubt that the tubers are of most value when cooked, although some authors affirm to the contrary. It seems possible to prove this on philosophical principles; for it is well known that the starch contained in the potato is incapable of affording nourishment until the containing globules are broken, and one of the most efficient means of doing this seems to be by heat. Boussingault, in speaking of the economy of cooking potatoes, says, "The potato is frequently steamed or boiled first; yet I can say positively that horned cattle do extremely well upon raw potatoes, and at Bechelbrunn our cows never have them otherwise than raw. They are never boiled, save for horses and hogs. The best mode of dealing with them is to steam them; they need never be so thoroughly boiled as when they are to serve for the food of man. The steamed or boiled potatoes are crushed between two rollers, or simply broken with a wooden spade, and mixed with cut hay or straw or chaff, before being served out. It may not be unnecessary to observe that by steaming potatoes lose no weight; hence we conclude that the nutritive equivalent for the boiled is the same as that of the raw tuber. "Nevertheless, it is possible that the amylaceous principle is rendered more easily assimilable by boiling, and that by this means the tubers actually become more nutritious. Some have proposed to roast potatoes in the oven, and there can be little question that heated in this way they answer admirably for fattening hogs, and even oxen. Done in the oven, potatoes may be brought to a state in which they may perfectly supply the place of corn in feeding horses and other cattle." The apparent contradiction in the remarks will be observed; but the evident leaning in favor of cooked potatoes shows that Boussingault, although paying some attention to the theory that cooked food is not generally attended with the same benefit to ruminating as to other animals, was evidently almost convinced that those which contained an abundance of starch in their constituents must be rendered more nutritious when exposed to the action of heat. Potatoes fed in a raw state to stock are laxative in their effects, and are often given to horses as a medicine in cases of "hidebound" with decided benefit. Bots, which have been known to live twenty-four hours immersed in spirits of turpentine, die almost instantly when placed in potato-juice; hence a common practice with horsemen, where bots are suspected, is to first administer milk and molasses to decoy the parasites from the coating of the stomach, and then drench the animal with the expressed juice of potatoes. A decoction made by boiling the parings of potatoes in a small quantity of water is often used as a wash to kill vermin on cattle. Raw potatoes, fed occasionally and in small quantities, are a good tonic for stock of any kind which is kept principally on hay; but all experiments show that when the potato is used for fattening purposes, the tubers should in some way be cooked, that the animal to which they are fed may derive from them the greatest possible amount of nutriment. Repeated experiments demonstrate the fact that horned cattle or hogs lay on as much fat from the consumption of two thirds of a given quantity of potatoes properly cooked as they will by eating the entire quantity in a raw state. In point of nutriment as cattle-food, two pounds of potatoes are considered equivalent to one pound of hay.

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