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The newer knowledge of nutrition shows that cereals and seed products are deficient in calcium, sodium, chlorine, and unknown substances, called fat-soluble A and water-soluble B sometimes referred to as “vitamines” or “accessory food factors.”
McCollum(1) in America, has gone the length of proving bj actual experiment that cows and their calves can be raised to perfection on nothing but the complete maize plant, although maize grain is well known as a very incomplete food. In spite of his demonstration, and in spite of the obvious fact that nothing could be more like grass than an entire cereal plant and therefore suited to herbivora, very few practical or theoretical agriculturists recognise that straw is the most likely thing in the world to correct for the deficiencies of grain feeding. The difficulty is to get straw that is eatable. The practical farmer, when he happens to get a good sample, accepts it as a gift of fate and is content to turn it into profit for himself as soon as he can. The object of the enquiry, or rather the series of enquiries of which this forms a part, is to adopt the more scientific mode of procedure and endeavour to find out what differences of feeding value naturally occur in oat straw, and which of the conditions needed for high feeding value could be repeated at will, and what light such investigation threw on the old question of why farmers in some districts can fatten cattle on swedes and straw whilst in other districts it is found impossible. Oat straw is plentiful in this country and is probably well supplied with the so-called food accessories, that is the things that the grains lack; the problem at issue is how to get more of the eatable kind and less of the uneatable kind. Provided that the straw is eaten in fair quantity, the possible diminution of growth power, by partial destruction of vitamines due to keeping straw in the stack, is of no practical importance because of the large amount of the straw.