CREAMERIES AND FACTORIES
A CREAMERY is generally understood to be an establishment in which the cream sent by the producer is converted into butter, whereas the entire milk of the farmer is handled in a factory, either for conversion into butter or cheese, or both, as may be found most convenient. The creamery system, which has been adopted in America on a somewhat large scale, has certain advantages which are worthy of notice, although when compared with the modern factory, these advantages are more than counterbalanced by the disadvantages. For example, the farmer who supplies a factory is required to deliver the milk twice daily. If he resides some miles from the building, it becomes essential to keep a horse and cart for the purpose, while the time of a man is very largely occupied on the road. The cream-supplier, however, is not required to deliver his produce daily. He removes the cream from the milk on his own farm and retains it, in accordance with the regulations, for perhaps a couple of days, taking care to mix every skimming carefully with the bulk. Thus the journeys are diminished in number, while the weight carried on each is incomparably less. In supplying the factory, too, the farmer either parts with the separated milk, which is a great loss to his stock, or he buys it back at a price which is often higher than it ought to be, while in all cases it has to be carried back to the farm. Formerly cream was purchased in America at so much per inch, but as cream differs in quality, this was found to be an unsatisfactory system. Latterly, the principle of churning the cream of each contributor separately has been adopted, with payment in accordance with the butter produced. I have had the advantage of inspecting creameries where this plan has been carried out, and of ascertaining from the books that not only was the quantity of butter produced very often exceptionally small, but its market value varied enormously, sometimes falling as low as 7d. per pound, and at other times reaching as much as 11d. The difference was owing almost entirely to the system prevailing on the various farms. Where care was taken to produce absolutely pure, clean milk, to raise the cream in an equally pure dairy, and to ripen it properly, the result was butter of high quality; but where no care was taken disagreeable flavours were developed in the cream, and the butter was in consequence immensely reduced in value. It must be evident that where cream of varying qualities are thus separately churned a dairy organization is placed at a great disadvantage. Success depends so much upon high quality all round and upon the acquisition of a name for a perfect sample. The very fact of a creamery turning out a variety of samples differing in quality, is sufficient to handicap it so seriously in the market that even the best butter it produces realizes less than would be the case if the whole of the produce were alike good. It may be safely pointed out, however, that although the produce of a butter factory is of much higher average quality than the samples of butter made in a creamery, that quality is to some extent controlled by the fact that the milk is mixed. For example, assuming that fifty farmers contribute milk to a factory, there are certain to be some who do not grasp the fact that the quality of butter depends almost entirely upon the purity of the atmosphere in which the cows exist, of the water they drink, of the vessels into which the milk is poured, and of the cleanliness of the udder, the hands and clothes of the milkers. The introduction of a few lots of unclean milk into a volume of clean milk will immensely depreciate its value and the value of the butter obtained from it. Thus it happens that the careless contributor obtains as much for his milk, if it passes muster, as the man who exercises the greatest care and skill. We may take it for granted that the creamery system is next to impossible in England, although it may still answer in some parts of Ireland, where, in consequence of the difficulties of locomotion, it is impossible to deliver milk twice daily. The same objection cannot be made to the factory system, which is the only system applicable to such countries as Canada, Western America, and the Australian Colonies, as well as to parts of Ireland and a few districts in England and Scotland.
Hitherto the reason why the factory has failed to obtain a hold upon the milk-producing portion of our population is that by means of butter or cheese production on a large scale it has not been possible to pay the producer so much for his milk as he can obtain by selling it for consumption in the large towns. There is, however, it is to be feared, a possibility that the value of milk for consumption will fall still lower until it approximates in value to the price paid to the factory. Should this be the case, the factory system is certain to extend; but under present conditions it is applicable — unless in a few special instances and for reasons which it is unnecessary to state — only to those parts of the country which are too distant from large centres of population, or which are badly supplied with railway communication. It is for this reason that we find factories existing in parts of Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall, and it is obvious that where butter realizes no more than from 10d. to 11d. a pound during several of the summer months, the milk cannot be worth anything like so much as its market price for consumption, which has seldom fallen below 6d. a gallon until last year, especially where it requires 2 1/2 gallons to produce a pound of butter. Let us refer for a moment to what has been done in Ireland by the Irish Agricultural Organization Society. Last year there were fifty-six co-operative dairies with eight branches, while some fifteen other dairies were in course of formation. The returns obtained by the Secretary of the Society show that the average yield of the cows from which the factories obtained their milk is 435 gallons per annum. It has been pointed out that the average value of farm-made butter in Ireland in 1894 was 8d. a pound, so that, on the assumption that each pound of butter produced at home required three gallons of milk, the return per cow to the farmer would be £4 16s. 8d. On the other hand, the price paid for the milk by the factories having been 3 1/2d. per gallon, the farmer contributing received £1 10s. 2d. per cow more than had he retained his milk for conversion into butter at home. In each case the separated milk would be utilized upon the farm, although we are bound to point out that something must be allowed for the conveyance of the milk between farm and factory. Estimating the value of the separated milk returned to the farm at id. per gallon, and the quantity returned at 345 gallons, the total receipt per cow would be £7 15s. 7d. If we take the average value of milk sold in England for consumption at 7d., and it is possible that it will not reach a higher figure in the immediate future, we arrive at a total of £12 13s. 9d., from which the cost of railway churns and of the conveyance of the milk to the station must be deducted. Again, a cow yielding the same quantity of milk would, if that milk was of exceptionally high quality, as in the case of the Jersey, produce 24 lbs. of butter, which, at the Irish price of 8d. per pound, would yield
£8 0s. 8d., or, plus 90 per cent. of the skimmed milk, £9 13s. 2d.; while at an average of is. a pound the return would equal £13 13s. 6d. How small, however, are all these figures compared with what was obtained a few years ago by butter-makers, cheese-makers, and milk-sellers alone I We have been enabled to examine accounts of dairy farmers in the county of Cheshire, where over £20 a head has formerly been realized on herds of from eighty to one hundred cows. As, in many cases, rents have not decreased, as labour has maintained its value, and as the reductions in food stuffs and manures have been comparatively small, it would seem that the deficiency is to be made up out of the farmer's pocket. The Irish factories realized an average price of 10.22d. per pound for butter in 1894, which was 1.29d. per pound less than in the previous year. While prices have fallen, however, the quality of the milk has risen. Thus, in 1893 the Irish factory milk produced 6.19 oz. of butter per gallon, but in 1894 6.33 ozs., and this is one feature to which closer attention will have to be paid in the future. Prices cannot fall below a certain figure; and it is possible that the farmer may, by the exercise of higher and still higher skill and care, not only increase the yield of milk per cow, but the quality of that milk also. It is, for example, quite possible to maintain a herd of Jerseys which will yield a still higher average than 435 gallons per annum, and at the same time to produce milk which will yield butter at the rate of one pound per 17 1/2 lbs. of milk, instead of one pound to 2 1/2 gallons, as is now the case in the best factories. In Ireland the cost of production based upon the general working expenses is about 10 per cent., or 1d. per pound when butter is at 10d.; but in the respective factories this figure may slightly differ for several reasons. Taking the factories working in 1894 as an example, it is found that the value of the butter produced varied from an average of 9.63d. to 11.60d. per pound, while the cost of the milk varied from 3d. to 3.83d.; and still further, the yield of the butter produced from the milk varied from 5.82 oz. to 6.78 ozs. to the gallon. Thus, then, the cost of production depends upon the quality of the milk, the price paid per gallon, and the market value of the butter, as well as upon the actual amount of the working expenses, such as wages, packages, machinery, wear and tear, carriage, and management.
We have already referred to the fact that cream has been paid for by the inch. It is now generally recognized that milk should be paid for in accordance with its butter value, or, where cheese is made, by its cheese value. Let us see how this system can be worked, taking the case of a factory paying a regular price to its contributors of 6d. an imperial gallon, or what is preferable, 6d. per 10 lbs., for the measurement of milk is never satisfactory, the fluid being larger in volume when it is warm and smaller when it is cold. Let us suppose, too, that the factory manager is willing to pay an extra penny per gallon to be distributed among the contributors in proportion to the value of their milk, no milk being received which does not contain more than 3 per cent of fat. During the three months over which the accounts run, 108,000 gallons have been delivered, representing an average of about 1200 gallons a day. The extra penny per gallon upon this quantity would amount to £450, which is the sum available for distribution among the various contributors upon the basis of quality. One contributor may have supplied 6o gallons a day with an average fat percentage of 3.2. Another may have supplied 30 gallons with an average percentage of fat of 3.5, while a third contributor has sent in 20 gallons daily, containing 4 per cent of fat. Now we shall see how the account stands —
Each degree of fat is shown to be worth 2.86d, so that C, who has contributed 1 per cent of fat more than the minimum permitted, becomes entitled to £8 11s., multiplying the 720 by 2.86. He receives more than the full penny allotted, whereas, had his milk failed to reach more than 3 per cent. he would not have received a single shilling. This plan, which is ingenious and practical, is of American origin, and if we do not think our cousins equal us in the quality of their produce, they at least exhibit much greater skill and originality in their system of management. Let us take another system. Assuming that the whole of the milk delivered to the factory is of good quality, it is paid for in accordance with the butter actually produced. As it is impossible, unless the milk is separately handled, to ascertain the exact amount of butter produced by each of the contributors of milk, every sample is tested by such a machine as the Babcock Tester, and the quantity of fat present ascertained. Supposing A has produced 3000 pounds of milk containing 4 per cent. of fat, and B 4000 pounds containing 4 per cent., A will have produced 120 lbs. of fat and B 180 lbs., or 300 lbs. in all. It follows, therefore, that when the money value of the butter produced, after deducting the cost of manufacture, is distributed, B will receive exactly two-thirds as much as A, B's larger cheque being entirely owing to the fact that his milk was richer, and had produced more butter.
We are bound to remember that excellent as factory butter and cheese are, as compared with the average farm-house samples, there can be no question about the fact that the finest sample made by a skilled maker from milk which has been produced under his own supervision is superior to any sample produced in a factory which is necessarily obtained from mixed milk, produced under various systems of feeding from cattle managed in different ways, and by more or less cleanly individuals. The factory is of enormous value, but we cannot admit that it can or that it ought to beat the produce of the farm, where that produce is obtained by the aid of the greatest skill.