Developing Draft Colts
by W.A. Cochel and B.O. Severson
from the Pennsylvania State College Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin No. 122, July 1913
The general practice of Pennsylvania farmers in buying rather than producing horses for farm work is justified by the statement that horses can be bought cheaper than they can be produced under eastern conditions. During October, 1910, The Pennsylvania State College and Experiment Station purchased a group of ten grade Belgian and Percheron colts and one pure bred Percheron for use in live stock judging classes. An accurate record of the initial cost, feeds consumed and changes in form has been kept in order that some definite information as to the cost of developing draft colts from weaning to maturity might be available for farmers, investigators and students. The handling of animals in this way is probably more expensive than handling them for market purposes but it has an advantage in that the results are not apt to prove misleading when applied to farm conditions.
Care and Management
First Winter, November 12, 1910 – April 19, 1911.
During the first winter the colts were divided into two groups, one of four, the other of six individuals, and allowed to run loose in two large box stalls. They were turned out twice daily for water, and occasionally led from the College Barn to the Agricultural Building, a distance of one-quarter of a mile, for use in the class room. Otherwise they had no exercise, as suitable enclosures were not available. Each group was fed a ration of five pounds per head daily in two equal feeds from a grain mixture of five parts shelled corn, three parts oats, two parts wheat bran, one part linseed meal, weighed and mixed in bulk. This amount of grain was fed until the end of the third month, when it was increased to seven and one-half pounds per head daily. No further increase was made throughout the winter. During the first half of the winter the group of four colts received a roughage ration of corn silage in the morning and hay in the evening. The average amount consumed per head during this period was 8.2 pounds of silage and 7.4 pounds of hay. The other group received the same grain ration and 10.6 pounds of hay without silage. During the last three months of the winter period the grain was increased to 7.5 and the hay to 13.1 pounds per head daily in each group. With this method of feeding, all the colts came through the winter in excellent condition of flesh, having gained 244.27 pounds per head during the winter feeding period of 168 days.
Summer Feeding Period, April 19 – November 2, 1911.
The summer feeding period included 196 days, starting April 19 and ending November 2, 1911. All colts were placed in pasture lots on May 4; five days later the fillies were removed to a larger pasture and allowed to range during the day and were placed in the barn lot at night. The four stallions were kept in a small pasture of four acres and were allowed to stay only 4 to 6 hours daily in this lot. The amount of grass was limited, and was therefore supplemented with grain and hay for all the colts. The larger portion of the hay was consumed by the four stallions. The pasture was supplemented to some extent with a soiling crop of green, mixed hay. During the last two weeks of August the four stallion colts were kept in the pasture lots at night, and tied in the barn during the day, in order to protect them from heat and flies.