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KENDAL FARMERS' CLUB..................part #5
The importance of pure milk as an article of daily food cannot be overrated. It is in point of fact the only food which is alone capabLE of supporting life. I don't mean to say that a labouring man could work on this and nothing else, but if he can get plenty of it good, it will go a long way towards the support of himself and his children. If he be the fortunate possessor of a cow, the wherewithal to keep one, he has made the first step towards his promotion in the social scale; his family will be in the enjoyment of a luxury in the shape of good pure milk, which it is not in the power of many of his neighbours to obtain.
The same rule holds good for man as for cattle. If a fine healthy vigorous race is to be reared, they must be well fed. In confirmation of this I would invite comparison between the physical condition of our north country labourers with those of the south; and I do not hesitate to say that the comparison is immensely in favour of the north, and in proof thereof, I would state upon good authority that the strongest navvies are from the hill districts of Lancashire, our strongest agricultural labourers are to be found in Westmorland and Cumberland, and in the hill districts of Scotland --Aberdeenshire in particular.
These have been the favourite recruiting grounds for guardsmen and soldiers of the greatest size and strength, the foundation of this size and strength having been laid in early youth by the comparatively cheap and abundant supply of fresh and good milk.
Those who have employed labourers both in the north and south of England say that the north countryman is well worth the differences in his wages, that he is cheap if not cheaper at 18s a week, than the other is at 10s or 11s.; for that I grieve to sae is in many cases the miserable pittance doled out at wages in many of the southern counties, with the addition of possibly some wretched beer or cider.
If then it be true, as I hold it is, that milk is of the first importance as an article of food, how desirable is it that we should get it pure and of the best quality, and the question will then be very naturally put, what tests can be applied to detect any adulteration ?
I have before observed that water is the only adulteration which we need to look for, and just in proportion as more or less water has been added does the mixture vary in weight, or, to use the proper term, in specific gravity. Perhaps I may be excused if I explain that by specific gravity is meant the weight of any article in comparison with water, which is taken as the standard - thus taking the weight of water as one, supposing the weight of milk to be half as heavy again as water, it would be said to have a specific gravity of one a half.
As a matter of fact the weight of pure milk is not anything as much as this in excess of water,it is only about 1- 40th heavier than water, and it may very naturally be said how difficult to detect adulteration where you have to judge by very small differences, but in reality this is not the case.
Instruments are now made with such exactitude and graduated with such minuteness that the smallest differences can be detected.
I have here, three samples of milk..........................................
1st....................... pure milk
2nd..................... 3/4 milk 1/4 water
3rd..................... 1/2 milk 1/2
and you will observe the difference as shown by the hydrometer. This is a very simple test, and one which may be readily applied. Of course, consumers on a very small scale are not likely to have the means at hand though they are the very people to whom it is of the most importance to have a genuine good article, but they could take a small sample to some competent person who would determine for them the actual state of the case. [ MR. WAKEFIELD here made several interesting experiments with the hydrometer ].
An attempt has been made in London to establish what has been called a Dairy Reform association and the difficulties the company have had to contend with have been very great from the opposition offered by the general dealers in milk of the quality usually sold (Vide Journal Society of Arts. No. 753, page 355 ).
So far I have spoken only of the purity of milk as regards adulteration and the means to detect it, but it is quite possible to have an article genuine as to purity, and at the same time very poor as to quality. I need hardly tell you that different cows give milks of very varying qualities, and the fact that the milk of one cow was found very inferior to that given by another would by no means prove that there had been any tampering with the purity.
A cow keeper will very naturally regulate his proceedings according to the nature of his business. If he goes in for simply selling milk to be used as milk, he will go in for quantity rather than quality, and this brings us to a part of my subject of great interest.
The governor of a prison in Germany tried experiments upon two lots of prisoners. Bread and water was the regular and only diet, a fixed quantity of each being given. He selected six men, and gave them their food in the usual way, the bread dry, and the water to drink as they felt disposed. He then selected six others, and gave them their bread sopped in the same quantity of water as he had given the others. The result was that they lost considerably, whereas the first kept their ground.
He then reversed the order, and treated the first six in the same way as he had done the second lot, and the seconed as he had done the first, with the same result. Those who had done badly on the mixed bread and water, immediately improved when they had them separately, and the other lot when fed on the sop at once began to lose ground in the same way, proving that mastication is necessary to promote a healthy state of digestion, and so to get the good out of food.
Dry bread cannot be swallowed without this process of mastication, and the saliva that is thus produced is a great means of helping digestion; whereas the bread sopped in water can be swallowed down almost without any effort, and consequently does not do the same good.
Take an instance of this familiar to us all. We know how some horses pass a good deal of their corn very much, if not quite, in the same condition as it was given them. Clearly this is just so much wasted. But give chaff along with their corn, either chopped hay or straw, the latter being I think the best, there will not then be much waste. A horse cannot swallow down chaff without mastication. If he did so the sharp ends of the hay or straw would hurt his throat.
And, as it holds good in the case of men and horses, so it will apply equally to cows. I would contend that a large amount of boiled soft stuff which they can easily swallow down without any effort cannot be good for them, as regards their own health, and what affects their health will certainly affect the quality of their milk
Cows fed in towns get a very large quantity of brewers grains, and hence it is that as a rule their milk is very inferior to that given by country cows, which are too far off to make the grains worth carriage, but more especially where the farmer, to having a convenient sale for his milk, goes in for making butter.
And now, if I have not wearied your patience, I must just say a few words on another part of my subject...............................................
to be continued.