The New Student's Reference Work/Stock-Raising

Stock′-Raising. One of the most important industries in the United States; closely associated with agriculture, though some stock is yet sent to market directly from the western pasture-lands. East of the Alleghenies not much stock is raised for market, but large herds of dairy-cattle are found, while every farm has a few horses, hogs, sheep and cows to supply home needs. The Mississippi Valley and the western plains produce vast wealth in stock every year.

In America the pig has been coëxtensive with Indian corn, the greatest of food-crops. Consequently Chester County, Pa., developed the first truly American breed of swine, the Chester White, while Miami Valley, Ohio, about 1860 produced the well-known Poland China hog. The Miami Valley then was the world's corn and hog center, Cincinnati the chief American market. As the prairie states, however, were settled, a sudden change occurred in stock-raising. Indian corn spread to the arid plains, the bison disappeared and the steer and the hog followed corn to the boundary of cultivation. Then the ox went alone across “the Great American Desert” to the Rockies, and from 1870 to 1890 countless herds of cattle grazed from the Rio Grande to Canada. By 1900, however, the settlement even of “the far west” had ended this free ranging. Now the range-business is confined to producing feeders and shipping them eastward to be fattened in the corn-belt of Iowa and Illinois. The ruined grazing-lands of the southwest are being restocked with native grasses, and in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota horses are raised on the prairie-pastures as extensively as cattle and sheep once were.

So American stock-raising has developed into the most gigantic live-stock industry ever known. The grass-lands of the far west and the corn-belt of the central west complement each other, each supplying what the other lacks. Land unfit for cultivation, where grass is cheap but corn and shelter wanting, is utilized for producing cattle and sheep. Breeding-herds that supply superior sires and dams are raised in the corn-belt, and this is the finishing or fattening ground for the stock from the western ranches. So Chicago, Omaha and Kansas City have become the markets for this immense industry. (See Stock-Yards). The prairie-pastures can, indeed, fatten sheep, finish many kinds of horses or even put fairly-good cattle into the market; but the cost of shipping livestock from the range to the finishing ground is so great that live-stock must both be produced and finished at each place. Consequently farmers are breeding their own stock and developing it as part of the system of enriching their land. The meat-supply of the United States must henceforth be raised on the American farm; and live-stock is accompanied by leguminous crops (which animals alone can eat), which are the only feasible means of cheaply maintaining the nitrogen-supply and fertility of the soil. Hence stock-raising will play a larger and ever larger part in American farming.

The vastness of the live-stock industry in the United States is shown by the following statistics of domestic animals in 1910: Cattle (cows, bulls, etc.) 61,225,791; horses and colts 19,731,060; mules 4,183,572; asses and burros 110,012; sheep 51,809,068; swine 58,600,632; and goats 1,948,952. See Agriculture (Stock-Breeding and Stock-Feeding, p. 31); Cattle; Hog; Horse; Meat-Packing; Milk; Mule; Sheep; Swine; and Wool.