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TIDE MILK

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 757 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TIDE MILK TRADE The term " milk trade " has come to signify the great traffic in country milk for the supply of dwellers in urban districts. Prior to r86o this traffic was comparatively small or in its infancy. Thirty years earlier it could not have been brought into existence, for it is an outcome of the great network of railways which was spread over the face of the country in the latter half of the 19th century. It affords an instructive illustration of the process of commercial evolution which has been fostered by the vast increase of urban population within the period indicated. It is a tribute to the spirit of sanitary reform which—as an example in one special direction—has brought about the disestablishment of urban cow-sheds and the consequent demand for milk produced in the shires. London, in fact, is now being regularly supplied with fresh milk from places anywhere within 150 m., and the milk traffic on the railways, not only to London but to other great centres, is an important item. A factor in the development of the milk trade must no doubt be sought in the outbreak of cattle plague in 1865, for it was then that the dairy-men of the metropolis were compelled to seek milk all over England, and the capillary refrigerator being invented soon after, the production of milk has remained ever since in the hands of dairymen living mainly at a distance from the towns supplied. This great change in country dairying, involving the continuous export of enormous quantities of milk from the farms, has been accompanied by subsidiary changes in the management of dairy-farms, and has necessitated the extensive purchase of feeding-stuffs for the production of milk, especially in winter-time. It is probable that, in this way, a gradual improvement of the soil on such farms has been effected, and the corn-growing soils of distant countries are adding to the store of fertility of soils in the British Isles. Country roads, exposed to the wear and tear of a comparatively new traffic, are lively at morn and eve with the rattle of vehicles conveying fresh milk from the farms to the railway stations. Most of these changes were brought about within the limits of the last third of the 19th century. In the case of London the daily supply of a perishable article such as milk, which must be delivered to the consumer within a few hours of its production, to a population of five millions, is an undertaking of very great magnitude, especially when it is considered that only a comparatively minute proportion of the supply is produced in the metropolitan area itself. To meet the demand of the London consumer some 5000 dairies proper exist, as well as a large number of businesses where milk is sold in conjunction with other commodities. It has been computed that some 12,000 traders are engaged in the business of milk-selling in the metropolis, and the number of persons employed in its distribution, &c., cannot be fewer than 25,000. The amount of capital involved is very great, and it may be mentioned that the paid-up capital of six of the principal distributing and retail dairy companies amounts to upwards of one million sterling. The most significant feature in connexion with the milk-supply of the metropolis at the beginning of the loth century is the gradual extinction of the town " cowkeeper "—the retailer who produces the milk he sells. The facilities afforded by the railway companies, the favourable rates which have been secured for the transport of milk, and the more enlightened methods of its treatment after production, have made it possible for milk produced under more favourable conditions to be brought from consider-able distances and delivered to the retailer at a price lower than that at which it has been possible to produce it in the metropolis itself. As a result, the number of milk cows in the county of London diminished from 10,000 in 1889 to 5144 in 1900, the latter, on an estimated production of 700 gallons per cow—the average production of stall-fed town cows—representing a yearly milk yield of 3,600,000 gallons. How small a proportion this is of the total supply will be gathered from the fact that the annual quantity of milk delivered in London on the Great Western line amounts to some r 1,000,000 gallons, whilst the London & North-Western railway delivers 9,000,000, and the Midland railway at St Pancras 5,000,000, and at others of its London stations about 1,000,000, making 6,000,000 in all. The London & South-Western railway brings upwards of 8,000,000 gallons to London, a quantity of 7,500,000 gallons is carried by the Great Northern railway, and the Great Eastern railway is responsible for 7,000,000. The London, Brighton & South Coast railway de-livers 1,000,000 gallons, and the South-Eastern & Chatham and the London & Tilbury railways carry approximately 1,000,000 gallons between them. A large quantity of milk is also carried in by local lines from farms in the vicinity of London and delivered at the local stations, and a quantity is also brought by the Great Central railway. In addition to this, milk is taken into London by carts from farms in the neighbourhood of the metropolis. A computation of the total milk-supply of the metropolis reveals a quantity approximating to 6o,000,000 gallons per annum, or rather more than a million gallons per week, which, taking 500 gallons as the average yearly production of the cows contributing to this supply, represents the yield of at least 120,000 cows. The growth of the supply of country milk to London may be judged from the figures given by Mr George Barham, chairman of the Express Dairy Co. Ltd., in an article on " The Milk Trade " contributed to Professor Sheldon's work on The Farm and Dairy. The quantities carried by the respective railways in 1889 are therein stated in gallons as:—Great Western, 9,000,000; London & North-Western, 7,000,000; Midland, 7,000,000; London & South-Western, 6,000,000; Great Northern, 3,000,000; Great Eastern, 3,000,000; the southern lines, 2,000,000. The increase, therefore, on these lines amounted to no less than 13,500,000 gallons per annum, or 36 %. The diminished production in the metropolis itself amounted approximately only to 3,000,000 gallons, and it follows, therefore, that the consumption largely increased. Previously to 1864 it was only possible to bring milk into London from short distances, but the introduction of the refrigerator has enabled milk to be brought from places as far removed from the metropolis as North Staffordshire, and it has even been received from Scotland. Practically the whole of the milk supplied to the metropolis is produced in England. Attempts have been made to introduce foreign milk, and in 1898 a company was formed to promote the sale of fresh milk from Normandy, but the enterprise did not succeed. The trade subsequently showed signs of reviving, owing probably to the increased cost of the home produced article, and during the winter season of 1900-1901 the largest quantity received into the kingdom in one week amounted to ro,000 gallons. Of recent years a large demand has sprung up for sterilized milk in bottles, and a considerable trade is also done in humanized milk, which is a milk preparation approximating in its chemical composition to human milk. Estimating the average yield of milk of each country cow at 500 gallons per annum, and assuming an average of 28 cows to each farm, as many as 4300 farmers are engaged in supplying London with milk; allotting ten cows to each milker, it needs 12 battalions of r000 men each for this work alone. Some 3500 horses are required to convey the milk from the farms to the country railway stations. The chief sources of supply are in the counties of Derby, Stafford, Leicester, Northampton, Notts, Warwick, Bucks, Oxford, Gloucester, Berks, Wilts, Hants, Dorset, Essex, and Cambridge. It is not entirely owing to the railways that London's enormous supply of milk has been rendered possible, for the milk must still have been produced in the immediate neighbourhood of the metropolis had not the method of reducing the temperature of the product by means of the refrigerator been devised. There are probably 5700 horses engaged in the delivery of milk in London, and more people are employed in this work than in milking the cows. One of the great difficulties the London dairyman has to contend with, and a cause of frequent anxiety to him, is associated with the rise and fall of the thermometer, for a movement to the extent of ten degrees one way or the other may diminish or increase the supply in an inverse ratio to the demand. Thus, at periods of extreme cold, the cows shrink in their yield of milk, while from the same cause the Londoner is demanding more, in an extra cup of coffee, &c. Again, at periods of extreme heat, which has the same effect on the cow's production as extreme cold, the customer also demands an increased quantity of milk. Ten degrees fall of temperature in the summer will result in a lessened demand and an enlarged supply—to such an extent, indeed, that a single firm has been known to have had returned by its carriers some 600 gallons in one day. In such cases the cream separator is capable of rendering invaluable assistance. To make cheese in757 London in large quantities and at uncertain intervals has been found to be impracticable, while to set for cream a great bulk of milk is almost equally so. But now a considerable portion of what would otherwise be lost is saved by passing the milk through separators, and churning the cream into butter. Previously to the enormous development of the urban trade in country milk, dairy farms were in the main self-sustaining in the matter of manures and feeding-stuffs, and the cropping of arable land was governed by routine. To-day, on the contrary, many dairy farms are run at high pressure by the help of purchased materials,—corn, cake, and manure,—and the land is cropped regardless of routine and independent of courses. Such crops, moreover, are grown—white straw crops, green crops, root crops —as are deemed likely to be most needed at the time when they are ready. Green crops,—" soiling " crops, as they are termed in North America,—consisting largely of vetches or tares (held up by stalks of oat plants grown amongst them), cabbages, and in some districts green maize, are used to supplement the failing grass-lands at the fall of the year, and root crops, especially mangel, are advantageously grown for the same purpose. For winter feeding the farm is made to yield what it will in the shape of meadow and clover hay, and of course root crops of the several kinds. This provision is supplemented by the purchase of, for example, brewers' grains as a bulky food, and of oilcake and corn of many sorts as concentrated food.
End of Article: TIDE MILK
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