Horse v. Motor—II.
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Typical Facts and Figures Concerning Horse Costs.
Cost of Horse Delivery Seldom Appreciated.
Only those who have gone into the subject with any degree of thoroughness will appreciate to what
remarkable extent negligence exists in connection wen the accounting of the delivery branches of many otficrwise ably-managed commercial undertakings. Particularly in the case of the smaller tradesman — and he is one of the principal users who is specifically interested in the employment of motor vehicles of capacities ranging from 15 cwt. downwards-is there neglect to make any attempt to preserve, or even to ascertain, the actual costs of running horsed-van and
other non-motor deliveries. A rough and ready method is often in vogue of compiling comparative earners' and railway rates, but there is little definite attempt, excepting amongst the best organizations, to secure data which will reveal the actual cost per hoiir of the horse and van, or its equivalent, cost per mile of running in service, As the result of inquiries in many directions, of tradesmen and others, who have very diverse conditions under which to operate, we are enabled to in vestigate with a considerable degree of thoroughness many of the costs pertaining to the horsed delivery van. We shall not hesitate, as a result, to adopt hereafter certain definite analytical costs under such headings as those which were outlined in our fir.4 article of this series, and so with confidence.
The Working Limits of the Van Horse.
eie a rule, it will be found that a single-horsed van cannot be worked economically over a greater distance than 25 miles per day, and this class of work requires, for consistent performance, a horse of good stout build. Two-horsed vans, which are, as a rule, drawn by animals of rather lighter calibre, can travel longer daily journeys, and these may average feem 30 to 35 miles per day. With regard to the ielinber of working days which any man who values his horseflesh will care to schedule as the proper year's performance, it is, of course, a little difficult to estimate this with great accuracy, but from a large number of instances which we have had before tie, we are satisfied that this total should not, for ecertomical working, exceed 260 days out of the 365. This may seem quite a small proportion to those who have not realized that horses must be given the necessary amount of rest, although regular work, in conjunction with regular rest, will keep a normally healthy horse in the best " fettle." It v ill be found on this basis that to keep seven horses, for instance, on the road for six days of the week, it will be neeessary to keep one spare horse in order to ensure one rest day per horse, per week, exclusive of Sunday. On the authority of a number of expert horsekeepers, we are assured that the number of working hours per week for a good van horse should average between 45 and 50.
Life and Cost.
A rising from this estimate of the yearly working capacity of an average healthy horse, it is well to investigate the total life of such an animal:It is rarely, we find, that contractors—whose ability to
get the best out of their material is, as a rule, a pronounced feature—will attempt to put a horse to full work on the scale we have already suggested until it is at least six years old. Many animals, of course, are kept at light work for one or two years earlier in their lives, but satisfactory full service will not, almost invariably, be obtained until the horse has reached that age. A horse will live, barring unusual circumstances, from 15 to 20 years, but will only be capable of the full day's work, such as, for instance, that of the ordinary contractor, up to the age of 12 to 14 years. There are, really, only from six to eight years when it can work under full conditions of employment. A pair-horse vanner will cost, on the average at the present time, 1.'40 ; whilst a good single-vanner cannot be obtained under .V)0. It will therefore be seen that the depreciation of the single horse, per se, in delivery van-work, must be taken on a capital value of £50 over a period of six or seven years— subject to adjustment for sale price residual value.
Stabling, Vetting and Feeding Costs.
With regard to the annual and weekly costs of stabling, vetting, feeding and bedding, etc., it is, of course, a difficult matter definitely to adopt a figure for the first of these divisions. The charge will vary to an enormous extent with the locality. In the comparative costs which we published last week, it will be noticed that for 1911 we have standardized the rents, rates and taxes for a one-horse van at 3s. 4d. per week, and our investigations have shown us that it is fair to apportion the wages of horsekeeper, and for stabling purposes, at approximately 3s. 9ri. per week. This, of course, will pertain in towns without much variation, and we need not consider, as a rule, the slightly cheaper rates which might be secured in districts away from populated centres. The horsed delivery van almost invariably has to be stabled somewhere near a business centre.
With regard to the feeding of the stud of horses, considerable variation must be made in the costs according to the quality and quantity of the crops of the current year, as well as of the previous year. In this respect it is well to note that last year, on account of the scarcity of foods owing to the summer drought, the prices of all such supplies went up considerably. The type of horse which we are considering needs cwt. of oats and 0, cwt, of chaff per week, with a few pounds of each substituted occasionally by bran, linseed, beaus, peas, etc In respect to bedding, one truss of straw per horse, per week, is the average. In many cases, however, peat moss, chips and even sawdust---of course at relatively cheaper prices—can be employed satisfactorily. One particular stud of horses cost for forage and bedding, at average price for straw, last year, between January and December, from les. 3d. to 21s. 6d. per horse per week, the cost increasing proportionately all the year up to the latter figures. It may be safely assumed that it really costs Is. per horse, per week, for bedding alone.