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feel that I can teach you any thing on this subject, and I reproach myself for venturing to say even what I have.
President CHADBOURNE. In my lecture last night, perhaps some of you will remember that I made this statement : that, in my opinion, the germs of life are influenced in many ways that we do not understand; and that the peculiar influence brought to bear upon the germ at the time when it receives its distinct vital power, that which gives it the power of independent life, is a force that will manifest itself in the whole development of the germ. Now, in the discussions . here, and in the experiments that have been referred to in regard to securing the likeness of the sire, I think I have noticed in every case (if there is any exception, I hope some one will mention it), that, where the mare has been put to the same sire twice, the likeness of the sire appeared most strongly in the second case.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. It was exactly the reverse in my case. President CHADBOURNE. What was your case ?
Mr. HUTCHINSON. I put the mare to the same horse two successive years.
The first time the foal took after the horse: the second time it took after the mare very decidedly.
President CHADBOURNE. I did not hear that; but Mr. Williams gave a case of the other kind. It occurred to me that this ought to be taken into consideration. We know what Professor Agassiz said, and what all breeders recognize, — that, the first time a female is covered, the organs of generation are affected by the male in such a way, that the chances are (I should not go nearly so far as some have gone here this morning on this point); but I say the chances are, that every young of that female will have some of the characteristics of the first male that covered her. That is so well established, that I suppose any man who has a pure-bred heifer or a pure-bred mare would consider it a terrible calamity to have that female covered in the first place by a scrub.
He would say, “ I never expect to get any thing that: is pure from her.'
Now, is it reasonable to suppose that this effect is produced simply by the first covering? Is it not likely, that, whenever the female is covered, the young will not only partake of the nature of the sire, but that there is an effect produced upon that female that will last throughout ? I
think it is entirely reasonable to suppose so, although I do not believe that it has the same effect as in the first instance. If that is so, then we should naturally suppose, that, as you go on putting a mare to the same sire, you will be more likely to get the characteristics of the sire in the second and third case than in the first. A case is cited which is contrary to that theory; but I did not hear that: I have heard some of the others. So you see, gentlemen, the difficulty of reaching certainty in this respect. I do not believe we have reached any certain principle except this, – that an animal that has certain qualities that you can trace back to father and grandfather, tracing them back through quite a number of generations, and being sure that they have appeared in every one of them, will be very certain to reproduce those qualities in its progeny. I think that is all the result that has been reached. As has been said here, this blood will go over three, four, eight, or ten generations. Take some of the old bulls that were brought here from the State of Maine long years ago. All their history is forgotten; but once in a while a calf is dropped that shows all the characteristics of those old bulls, whose blood has been kept out of sight for generations. It is just so in the human family. Diseases and individual characteristics go over a good many generations, and then re-appear. But if you can be sure that the good qualities of a particular animal appeared in this one before him, and that one before that, so that you can be sure they have come down permanently for a great many generations, then I think you can be very sure he will perpetuate them.
QUESTION. There is one question I would like to ask : If the progeny is not as likely to take after the horse, by keeping the stallion, as Mr. Russell said this morning, in the presence of the mare for some little time before service? I have noticed this peculiarity in breeding stock, - that a Jersey, for instance, in a herd of other thorough-bred stock, would as often mark the progeny of the other cows with a little Jersey mark around the nose, as any way. Why is it, unless the associations and surroundings at the time of serving have that effect upon the animal ?
Mr. RUSSELL. In the first place, I would like to say a few words upon the point that is raised by President Chadbourne.
I am a thorough believer in the power of the first parent to mark all the succeeding progeny. I believe that the sire of the mare's first foal has an influence upon every one of her progeny, fading out, perhaps, as it goes on. It is not necessary to refer to my own experience, or to anybody's experiences, except in one celebrated case. At the beginning of this century, the Duke of Richmond, I think it was, or some celebrated English statesman, took a very fine thorough-bred mare to the Zoological Gardens in London, and had her crossed with a wild striped ass, a quagga, from the Cape of Good Hope; and she had a foal in due course of time, bearing the stripes of the quagga. She was afterwards put to a thorough-bred horse, and she threw a foal from the thoroughbred horse strongly marked with the stripes of the quagga. They continued to breed her; and she had seven or eight foals before she got through, every one of which bore the marks of that first impress, fainter and fainter towards the last. I have refused, in several instances, to have a mare covered by a horse that once belonged to me, whose form I wished to see in the colts, because the mare had been previously covered by notorious scrubs; and I had no idea that the subsequent cover could prevail over that influence. I believe that about all breeders know that to be a fact.
In regard to the point made by the last speaker, I believe, too, that the appearance of stock is more or less influenced by their surroundings. We read in the Bible, that when Jacob served for a part of the droppings of the sheep, and the young of the ewes that were to be that were striped and spotted, he contrived to produce an extraordinary number of spotted and striped ones, by peeling wands, and sticking them up before the fulsome ewes. I have had men come to me anxious to breed from gray mares; but fearful of getting gray stock (which is not fashionable, nor so salable as other colors), they would stipulate to have a bay horse or a black horse led out to stand before the mare when she was covered ; and I have no doubt that has been very influential in preventing the breeding of gray horses. In France during the last century, when they were anxious to have gray horses for posting-purposes, because it was considered more lively in dark nights to drive a team of gray horses, they followed the same practice in breeding gray horses ; and everybody who
has been to France knows that that country abounds with gray horses. There are more gray horses in France than in all the rest of the world put together.
Mr. CAPEN. I believe it is a matter of observation, that if the mother is strong, vigorous, and healthy, and her conditions are dominant, and the father is delicate, or in any respect feeble or inferior, the progeny are generally females; that is, the sex follows the condition of the dominant parent. And in a case where the father is the strongest in all respects, in vigor, in vitality, in intellect, or in any of those conditions which make up life and force, the larger proportion of the progeny are males. So far as my own observation goes in that matter, the principle is well supported. Mr.
I was interested in the statement of Mr. Williams in regard to his mare, which had first a colt that resembled the dam, and then one that resembled the sire; which last he attributed to the fact that the stallion was exercised in coming to Waltham. I believe that is true, from my observation and experience in breeding horses. I had a horse some two years ago that was used constantly during the season of service; that is, he was driven every day four, five, or ten miles. Sometimes he was put to the plough. And during the season he served between eighty and ninety mares; and almost every one of the colts partook of the characteristics of the horse. He was a very active, strong, resolute horse, large in size; and there was not a single foal that was deficient in energy, in strength, and hardly any that did not partake more or less of his constitution and his size; and I attribute it to the fact that he was constantly exercised. I have known horses that have been kept in the stall, and only taken out at the time of service, where the results were entirely different. I believe that is a matter that is oftentimes overlooked in the breeding of horses. Many stallions are pampered, over-fed, have no exercise ; and their progeny are deficient in all the qualities that it is desired to transmit. I was very glad to hear the experience of Mr. Williams in that direction. I think it illustrates a fact.
The subject was laid on the table, the hour assigned to the question-box having arrived.
THE QUESTION-BOX. Several questions were presented through the questionbox, among them the following:
* Would it be possible to improve the grasses by hybridization or cross-fertilization?" —
Mr. Flint. I will say a few words in reply to that question. It would be possible in a few cases, but not very practicable in any. The grasses differ in their floral structure. They are not all uniform in their mode of growth. We have a class that may be called diccious grasses ; that is, grasses in which the male and the female, or the staminate and pistillate, organs of the flower are arranged on entirely distinct plants. That is the case with only a very limited number of species. What is called the “buffalo-grass," which grows in the South, and in Colorado, and generally on the plains, is one of that kind. I have seen patches of buffalograss in Colorado, composed entirely of staminate, or male plants; and other patches composed entirely of pistillate, or female plants. Now, the pistillate plants must get their pollen from the staminate plants, which may be at some distance off. It was at first supposed that they were different species, until the fact was discovered that one grass was simply a staminate, or male plant; and the other a pistillate, or female plant, both belonging to the same species. Of course the seed is produced only on the pistillate plants.
Another class of grasses may be called the monoecious grasses; that is, where the staminate and pistillate flowers are on the same plant, but in distinct positions, separated from each other. The most familiar example of that is our common Indian-corn. Every farmer knows that the staminate flowers of Indian-corn come on the top, called the “tassels;" while the pistillate flowers are arranged on an axis along the main stalk, called the “ear;” and that the pollen from the staminate flowers must find its way through the pistils, which are the silks attached to the ears, as everybody knows, before fertilization can take place. There are but few grasses which are of that kind ; that is, where the plant shows both pistillate and staminate flowers, but on separate and distinct parts of the plant. Take, for instance, the common wild rice, which you find along our brooks (Zizania aquatica).