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Chapter 19

March 30, 2009

Chapter 19


Dirty Little Secrets of the Animals – Part 2

© Copyright 2009
by Dahni

The same mills grinding grain for bread, ground things like corn for animal feed. This opened the door to the animal feed industry.

St. Louis, Missouri would later be once again, a primary center for change. Back in the late 1800’s it was common to sell feed in “pretty print” feed bags so the material from the bags could be used to make many useful household items.


In 1846 with the invention of the “stitching machine,” it was possible to sew double locking seams strong enough to hold the contents of a feed, seed or some other bag.

Feedbacks were initially made of heavy canvas, and were used to obtain flour, sugar, meal, grain, salt and feed from the mills. They were reusable, with the farmer bringing an empty sack stamped with his mark or brand to the mill to be filled. This changed when the North East mills began weaving inexpensive cotton fabric in the late 1800’s.

Feedsacks (or feedbags), were initially printed on plain white cloth and in sizes that corresponded to barrel sizes. One company even made pink feed bags. The brand name of the flour, seed or feed was simply printed on the side of the bag.








A 1942 estimate showed that three million women and children of all income levels were wearing print feedbag garments.

Feedsacks were used to make:

  • Clothes
  • Quilts
  • Toys
  • Underwear
  • Pillowcases
  • Diapers
  • Laundry bags
  • Curtains
  • Table cloths
  • Towels, dish cloths

After WWII, technological innovations provided more sanitary and effective packaging made of heavy paper and plastic containers. It was cost effective too. A cotton bag cost 32 cents to make, as opposed to 10 cents for the paper bag. By 1948, this new industry cornered more than half of the bag market and the cloth bag fell out of use. But not entirely! Some Amish and Mennonite communities demand, and receive, their goods in feedsacks.

As far as animal feed, these were compound feeds or feedstuffs blended from various raw materials and additives. These blends are formulated according to the specific requirements of the target animal. They are manufactured by feed compounders as meal type, pellets or crumbles.

The beginning of industrial scale production of animal feeds can be traced back to the late 1800’s, this is around the time that advances in human and animal nutrition was able to identify the benefits of a balanced diet, and the importance that role in the processing of certain raw materials played in this. Corn gluten feed was first manufactured in 1882, while leading world feed producer Purina feeds was established in 1894 by William H. Danforth. Cargill which was mainly dealing in grains from its beginnings in 1865, started to deal in feed at about 1884.

cargilllogo2 *“Cargill has a long history in the animal nutrition business. William W. “Will” Cargill, who started Cargill, Inc. in 1865, started selling feed in Lacrosse, Wisconsin (USA) about 1884. In the mid-1930s, John MacMillan, Jr. started selling manufactured feed under the Cargill name when he opened a new facility in Conrad, Montana. In 1939, a new feed mill was included in an upgrade of Cargill’s Lennox, South Dakota grain elevator. That new feed plant, along with seven other facilities built over the next several years and the Conrad, Montana business, all started selling a new line of feed products called “Blue Square Feed.”

“In March 1941, Cargill purchased a facility just west of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and began marketing “Cargill Feeds” and “Du-All Feeds.” At that time, there were two distinct groups within Cargill marketing feeds. In some areas, they were in direct competition with each other, a scenario that would be repeated several more times in Cargill’s history as they built brands designed to serve diverse groups of customers.”

“Starting in November 1942, Cargill Feeds broadcast a barn dance every Saturday night on a Minneapolis radio station, featuring a group called the Red RiverValley Gang.”

*Excerpts from Cargill History at:









purinalogo2 *Mr. William H. Danforth outlined his philosophy in a number of books, the best known of which is entitled “I Dare You,” now in its 28th edition. He believed each person has not one, but four lives to live, and to illustrate he would draw a familiar “checkerboard” on a piece of paper. On the left side of the checker he would write “Physical”; at the top he would write “Mental”; on the right-hand side he would write “Social”; and at the base of the checker he would write “Religious.” A man’s ingredients for life are a body, a mind, a personality and character, Mr. Danforth would say, and all four must grow in balance with each other. The mind should not be developed at the expense of the personality, nor the body at the expense of character.”


Four-Square principles have been pillars of strength in my life,” he continued. “I have never had cause to change. The longer I live with such fundamentals, the more valuable they become.” Feed stores dotted every corner, the way gas stations do today. Other than hay, only two kinds of horse and mule feed were known, corn and oats. Oats were costly, and every year thousands of horses died from colic caused by bad corn. The two men convinced young Danforth to join them in the manufacture of feed, and the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company was formed in 1894. By the late 1890s, depression gives way to great prosperity. St. Louis grows to become the nation’s fourth largest city by the turn of the century. Farm prices increase, and agricultural products account for one-third of the nation’s trade surplus. More than half of this comes from manufactured feedstuffs, like Purina’s – “Where Purity is Paramount.”


“Consumer products companies begin to thrive as entrepreneurs deliver devices of safety and convenience. King Gillette gives men a close shave with the safety razor. Conrad Hubert and his American Ever Ready perfect the “electric hand torch”- the early name for a flashlight. Food processing becomes a major U.S. industry. Condensed soup makes its debut in 1897, courtesy of Campbell’s; Swift, Armour, and Beech-Nut can hams and other meats; Heinz, Kellogg’s, Quaker Oats and Pillsbury begin to integrate mass production with mass distribution, and become household names in the process.”

“1902, Ralston brand cereals and Purina brand feeds are so promising, the company name is changed to Ralston-Purina.”

* Excerpts from Ralston-Purina History at:









With the addition of food for humans like corn, wheat, oat and rice Chex®, I always hoped that somehow these human foods did not get mixed up with say, their monkey chow. 🙂

Even though many farmers would continue to mix their own feed in the 50’s, the trend for outside companies, was quickly becoming the accepted way of farming. What farmers had done for centuries was becoming a system of organized control by corporations. Farmers would come to depend upon chemical companies, science, herbicides, genetically altered seed and receive lower profits, while paying higher costs. To reduce costs and increase yields they were in a manner of speaking, forced into these ‘necessary evils’ to survive at least and to compete at best. What else would the smart people in charge do next?

This Dirty Little Secret is, what you lose control of, is taken over by others.

WOW, this stuff is really getting dirty! We are not done. There is much more to come and more Dirty Little Secrets to share next time.






Dirty Dahni

Chapter 20

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