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SEEDING TO FODDER AND PASTURE PLANTS.   27

and stones. His grandfather built fences with them. Seated on his tedder, he can shake out as much hay in an hour as his great-grandmother and her daughters could in a day. The raking, loading and unloading are now largely done by horse-power.

 

The effect of meadow weeds: With the evolution of labour-saving machinery and transportation facilities have come the introduction and dissemination of farm weeds. The losses due to weeds in the fodder crop are not well understood. The farmer can estimate the depreciation in the yield of grain caused by weeds, but the total yield of cured hay may be actually increased by their presence.

Badly infested pastures are good places in which to study weeds. It will be observed that many kinds avoided by cattle are less objectionable to horses and are sometimes even relished by sheep. Some weeds, as Water Parsnip, are very poisonous. Others, such as the mustards, docks and daisies, are not dangerous unless consumed in considerable quantities or for long periods, when their poisonous nature is made evident by the chronic ill-health of the animals. When grazing, unless fodder grasses are quite depleted, live stock are not apt to consume enough weeds seriously to impair their health. When allowed to select their own food in fields, the animals, especially cattle, usually thrive much better than when provided with even more nutritious rations in the stable.

The acrid flavour of Wormseed Mustard, False Flax, Shepherd's Purse and other members of the Mustard family is well known. They contain a strong irritant, the effects of which, if the weeds are consumed in quantity with cut feed, are best understood by those who have suffered under a mustard plaster. When fed for long on hay or grain that contains only a small quantity of the plants or seeds, the effects are less acute. They are first noticeable in the urine; the animal finally breaks out in deep ulcers, which, like those sometimes produced by prolonged applications of mustard plaster, are slow to heal.

Most members of the Cockle family contain saponin, which is distinctly poisonous, and although they have not enough to prove fatal to horses and cattle eating cockle-infested hay, they conduce to an unthrifty condition indicated by imperfect digestion, loss of appetite, lack of vigour, a hot skin and gradual loss of flesh.

Buttercups are strongly acrid and blister the mouths of animals; stock will not pasture where they are prevalent. When consumed in excess, or for a long period, they are said to cause abortion in cows.

Many members of the Sunflower family are known to be unwholesome, and some of them positively poisonous. Ragweed is a


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