Popular Science Monthly/Volume 45/June 1894/Dairy Schools and Dairy Products

By F. W. WOLL,


EVERYBODY likes good butter and good cheese, but to a large proportion of our population these very desirable articles of food would come in under the head of luxuries. Perhaps more than ninety per cent of the butter consumed by our people is made on farms or in private dairies; a great deal of it is fit for a king's table, and more and more of this kind of butter is made every year; still, when we consider the number of small towns in the United States and the quality of the mass of butter which every week is brought to the corner grocery store in each one of these places, there to be exchanged for three cent calico or twenty-five-cent coffee, it is evident that a large proportion of our butter is unqualifiedly bad. As for much of the cheese sold, the trouble lies in another direction—less in faulty methods of manufacture than in a flooding of the market with an immature, indigestible, sole-leather product, which some of us may know from the dining rooms of second and third class hotels.

While we, therefore, may find fault with a large share of the dairy products sold in the United States, we can not wonder very much that such is the case. Not until of late years has thorough, systematic instruction in their manufacture been offered anywhere in this country. The fundamental principles of the

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Fig. 1—View of Milk-testing Laboratory, Wisconsin Dairy School.

handling and care of milk and cream, and of the cream and butter in and out of the churn, are almost unknown to thousands of butter-makers, and more especially to the private, non-professional ones among these, who are in the great majority. The engineers have their mechanical colleges and their schools of technology, the doctors have their medical schools, and the druggists their pharmacy colleges, but the dairy farmers have had practically no place where they could receive instruction in the theory and practice of butter and cheese making. I am aware that there have been agricultural colleges in the United States since 1855, but as far as practical instruction in dairying is concerned a good many of them might as well not have existed at all, if I do not radically misjudge the situation. Lectures in dairying, in which the principles of butter-making were to be taught, were certainly included in the curricula of some of the colleges, under the charge of the Professor of Agriculture, but this gentleman most likely also had charge of the feeding and breeding of farm animals, cultivation of crops, soil physics, farm management, and other studies. It is not strange that the attention given to dairy matters and to the manufacture of dairy products could only be very scant under these conditions. There were so many important problems to be taken up and discussed in relation to general agricultural topics that time would not permit entering into details, even if the professor had the inclination to do so.

This state of affairs led to the establishment of separate schools for instruction in dairying, especially in the manufacture of butter and cheese. Such schools have existed in Europe for a number of years; here they were not introduced until four years ago, when the Wisconsin Dairy School was founded as a separate department of the Agricultural College of the University of Wisconsin. So spontaneous was the growth of this school, and so rapid the adoption of the system in many other States of the Union, that it surprised the most ardent supporters of the movement.

The Wisconsin Dairy School dates from January, 1890, when a short dairy course was arranged for students taking the winter course in the College of Agriculture; two out of the twenty-seven agricultural students took this dairy course. The following year, when the course was greatly widened and the dairy school proper organized, seventy-two students entered, crowding the quarters of the school to the very utmost. The Wisconsin Legislature having in 1891 appropriated twenty-five thousand dollars for a separate dairy-school building, the work was at once pushed forward; where a crop of corn was taken off the ground in September, 1891, a neat, substantial edifice was erected, the first story of which was ready for occupancy in January, 1892, and in March the first class

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Fig. 2.—View of Separator Room.

of students from the new dairy school was graduated, thus securing for the university two crops from the same land within a year. The building was finished during the summer of 1892, and is a model in appearance and equipment. Its cost up to date with equipment amounts to nearly forty thousand dollars. The name of the building, Hiram Smith Hall, was given it in honor of the veteran Wisconsin dairyman, Hon. Hiram Smith (1890), for twelve years a regent of the University and chairman of the Farm Committee of the Board of Regents, to whose enthusiasm and untiring efforts the school largely owes its existence. The building is calculated to accommodate one hundred students, and this number was reached the first year. Last year one hundred candidates applied for admission before December 1st, although the school did not begin until January 4th, and later applicants had to be turned away. Students have come from Canada and almost every State in the Union where dairying is a leading industry: Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan have furnished their quota; so have Maine and California; New Hampshire and Nevada; New York, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas.

We can not here enter into a detailed description of the courses of instruction offered in the school, but a short outline of the same will be given. Only branches bearing directly on the science and practice of dairying and on the manufacture of dairy products are taught. The policy of the governing board is to make the instruction thoroughly practical; at the same time the theoretical side is considered no less important. The professors and instructors connected with the school are specialists in their various branches; the instructors in the cheese room and the creamery are expert cheese and butter makers.

The instruction is given, first, by lectures; second, by work at the separators, the churns, and the cheese vats, as well as in the laboratory. Lectures are given in the following branches: The breeds and breeding of dairy cows, the feeding of dairy cows, diseases of dairy cows, the chemistry of milk and its products, bacteriology of the dairy products, physical problems connected with the dairy, and the care and management of the boiler and engine. These subjects are presented to the class by different professors of the university.

The practical work is taught in the butter and cheese room, as well as in the laboratory. The picture of the separating room shows the arrangement of the separators. Of these all the latest and most improved patterns are kept, as well as of the butter extractor. It may be in order to state, for the benefit of the many readers who never were inside of a creamery or a farm dairy, that a cream separator or a centrifuge, as it is sometimes called, is a machine for separating the cream from the skim milk by means of centrifugal force. A strong steel bowl is made to rotate by hand-power or steam, at a speed of five to eight thousand revolutions per minute; by this means the heavier portion of the milk, the skim milk, is separated from the lighter portion, the cream, and both are collected in separate vessels.

The work in the creamery room includes the handling and care of the cream previous to churning, the churning, and the working and packing of the butter. In the cheese room, where there are eight milk vats, each of a capacity of three hundred pounds, thirty-two students may work at the same time; the various steps in cheese-making, from the proper handling of the milk to the curing of the cheese, are here learned.

A most important part of the instruction is the milk testing, which is taught in the laboratory. Farmers' boys, who previously to their entering the school knew nothing whatever about the different components of milk, here learn to determine the percentage of fat in milk, skim milk, buttermilk, whey, and cream, with almost as great accuracy as any experienced chemist, and certainly as satisfactorily for all practical purposes. This has been made possible by the introduction of the Babcock test for the determination of fat in milk, a method invented nearly four years ago by Dr. S. M. Babcock, chief chemist to the Wisconsin Experiment Station. The method has won for its originator a worldwide reputation and the gratitude of progressive dairy farmers in this and other countries. The test, which was given to the public without any restriction of patent, is extremely simple, and may be made on a farm or in a creamery or cheese factory as well as in a chemical laboratory, everywhere with equal correctness and facility. In the dairy school the percentage of fat in milk is determined by Babcock's test, and by a combination of the test and the lactometer (a simple apparatus to determine the specific gravity of milk or its weight in relation to water), adulteration of the milk, and the extent of the same may be detected.

The course of the dairy school lasts three months—viz., January to March, inclusive. The expenses of the school while in operation are very heavy; the milk bill alone thus amounts to eighty dollars a day during this time. In addition to this course, dairy certificates are issued to such graduates of the school as have shown proficiency in the operation of a creamery or a cheese factory for one or more seasons; candidates for such certificates must send in reports of their work once a month to the dean of the college; their factories are further inspected by an instructor of the school, to ascertain whether or not the candidate may be granted a certificate, and thereby given the recommendation of the State Dairy School as a successful butter or cheese maker.

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Fig. 3.—Students at the Butter Worker.

Dairy schools on a similar plan as the one just described have been in operation during the past year or two at the Agricultural Colleges of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Iowa, and New York (Cornell). Other States will doubtless establish similar schools in the near future, as the demand for instruction in these branches is steadily increasing, and students are taxing to the utmost the capacity of the schools existing.

Only a small proportion of the milk produced in the United States is obtained on farms situated in the direct neighborhood of cities where the milk can be sold as such; in all other places it must be manufactured into butter or cheese. Where the population of a district is not sufficient to support a butter or cheese factory, the manufacture of dairy products, and primarily butter, must take place on the farm itself. Modern invention has greatly facilitated the work of butter-making on the farm; by the introduction of hand separators all apparatus for setting the milk, either in ice tanks or in a separate milk room, in metal or wooden vessels, may be done away with; the cream is obtained at once by the separator, and thus only one fifth of the quantity of material has to be taken care of, as the skim milk may be fed directly to calves or pigs. These hand separators are made in various sizes to suit the requirements of different herds. They are not very expensive, so that any farmer of moderate means can buy them. The manufacturers claim for them, and without exaggeration, that they will pay their cost each year over and above any other system, with a herd of ten or more cows, on account of the larger yield of butter obtained with them from the same quantity of milk. In other systems of creaming a much larger portion of the fat in the milk is left in the skim milk, which is thus lost for butter-making.

The modern churns, which are mostly barrel-shaped or of rectangular form, make churning mere play. The method of butter-making now generally adopted is about as follows: The cream is churned at about 56° to 62° Fahr., the temperature differing somewhat with the season and the ripeness of the cream. The butter will come after twenty to forty minutes' turning, sometimes more, sometimes less, according to acidity, temperature, and other conditions present. The buttermilk is then drawn off through a hole near the bottom of the churn, and the butter washed in the churn, placed on the butter worker to free it as completely as possible from buttermilk, and then salted (one ounce of salt to one pound of butter); again worked and packed in tubs, and is now ready for shipment. Our pictures show the making of creamery and of dairy butter.

In this country cheese is made almost entirely in factories; as many will know, the process employed in the making of our
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Fig. 4.—Butter-making Apparatus for Small Dairies.

ordinary Cheddar cheese is as follows: The milk is heated to 86° Fahr., in the cheese vat; one to four ounces of rennet extract is then added, according to the kind of cheese desired. The rennet coagulates the milk in less than half an hour; when the curd is firm, it is cut into small cubes by means of cheese knives, and heated slowly to 98° Fahr.; after about two hours the whey is ready to be drained off, the curd put on racks, and various operations gone through, of no special interest to the general reader; it is then salted (two to three pounds of salt to one thousand pounds of milk containing four per cent fat), put in hoops and pressed for twenty-four hours, and finally placed in the curing room. The more rennet is added to the milk, the quicker the cheese will cure; the more salt, the slower it will cure. Cheddar cheese ought to cure at least two months before it is put on the market, but is often sold only a couple of weeks old.

I have barely touched upon the main features in the manufacture of dairy products in the preceding. While it does not take very long to learn the important steps in their manufacture, it requires good common sense and thorough knowledge of the composition and properties of dairy products and the many conditions affecting the various processes, in order to become a successful butter or cheese maker. No cast-iron rules can be laid down in most cases, and no man can therefore make the kind of butter and cheese that you and I like, unless he understands his work thoroughly and uses good judgment in the discharge of his duties.

The dairy industry of the United States can not help receiving a grand impetus through the agency of the dairy schools; the quantity of dairy products will be increased through a better selection of animals, through more liberal, systematic feeding and better care being taken of them, and the quality of the products will be improved by a thorough understanding of the theory and practice of their manufacture. The magnitude of our dairy industry makes this educational work a most important one. The value of the annual product of butter and cheese made on farms or in factories in the United States in 1880, according to the tenth census, amounted to nearly one hundred and forty million dollars. More than eight hundred million pounds of butter and two hundred and forty million pounds of cheese were made during 1880. When it is remembered that the average annual yield of butter per cow in the United States does not exceed one hundred and twenty-five pounds, while single herds give three and even four hundred pounds a year per cow—when, furthermore, the mass of butter sells at an average of less than fifteen cents a pound, while private parties obtain fifty cents or more a pound for their butter—then we understand what a grand opportunity is offered to educators for missionary work in this line. This work our dairy schools, agricultural experiment stations, dairymen's associations, and similar organizations are doing, and American dairying is rapidly progressing toward a higher standard through their agencies.