Page images
PDF
EPUB

milking quality. The calves are allowed to run with their dams, taking what they please for four or five months. No care is taken to drain the last drop from the udder, and the cows are early dried off. This course naturally impairs the secretive powers of the cow, and affects the offspring in a like manner; though so thoroughly impregnated is the breed with the characteristic of good milking that it is probable that this quality could with care be restored to the family.

It may be considered as a settled point, notwithstanding individual exceptions, that the short-horns are superior milkers. Not a year passes that the extraordinary doings of some thorough-bred short-horn cow are not chronicled in the agricultural periodicals and certified by names of unimpeachable credit. We hear of cows giving from twenty-five to thirty quarts of good milk per day, and making two and one-half to three pounds of butter, and this upon no extraordinary feed.*

Grade short-horns are almost universally good milkers, not behind the thorough-breds. They are much sought for among the best dairy farmers in various parts of this country and in England. So common is it to hear of great milkers among these grades, that, whenever any remarkable statement of butter and milk is published, we are prepared to learn that the cow was of short-horn blood. It is notorious in England, that, when a breeder desires to improve the milking property of his herd, he resorts at once to a short-horn bull.

We have dwelt thus particularly upon the merits of the short-horns, to combat the unfounded prejudice against the breed which exists in the minds of farmers ignorant of their true character, who object to large animals, and obstinately and absurdly adhere to one color—the common red of our section. There is no blood that can be mingled with that of our native cattle more capable of improving them in respect to milking properties than that of well-bred short-horns. This cross, too, in improving the style and colors of milch cows, will enhance their market value in the large towns; for it cannot be denied that the more wealthy cow owners fancy a large and showy animal, whatever may be the prejudices of the country farmers, and they are willing to pay for what gratifies their taste.

* Mr. Allen's fine cow, which took the first premium at our recent show in New Bedford, made over fourteen pounds of butter a week on ordinary feed, and when not in her deepest milk. “Ruby," the grandam of the bull shown by Mr. Alden, took the first premium at the New York State Fair in 1850 as a milch cow. She made, from the 10th to the 20th of June, and from the 10th to the 20th of August, -a period of twenty days,-more than forty pounds of butter.

+ It is worthy of remark, that, of the five fine cows offered for premium at our recent show, one was a thorough-bred short-horn; three were known to be grades ; and your committee could not doubt the presence of the same blood in the fifth.

The Devons will long continue favorites among the breeders of working cattle, and in this respect they deserve the first rank; but the accomplishments of short-horns under the yoke are by no means contemptible; while their early maturity, apti. tude to fatten, and large size, render them profitable beasts for the grazier.

The high price of well-bred short-horn bulls will, probably, for some time to come, prevent their introduction in any great number among us; but we have one, at least, in the county, of great merit and unquestionable pedigree, coming from a good milking family, and having in his veins some of the best blood in the country.* Besides this animal, there are, we understand, other good bulls of this breed, and high and valuable grades; and we cannot too strongly advise the farmers to avail themselves of their services.t

Since the importation of Ayrshires in 1842 by that spirited breeder, the late Capt. George Randall, of New Bedford, that breed of cattle has been pretty well known and generally approved in the southern part of the county, and deserves our attention. The claims of the Ayrshires to the title of a distinct breed are still questioned by stock men, many of whom contend that they are nothing more than high, carefully-bred grades, a cross of thorough-bred short-horn bulls upon the small cows of the south of Scotland. The investigations of men of repute seem rather to confirm this opinion; while the general resemblance of Ayrshires to good grade short-horns, and the want of uniformity among them, mark them as a recent breed, prob

* The bull “ Young Favorite,” owned by E. G. Alden, Esq., of Boston, and kept in the vicinity of Taunton.

+ Mr. Grinnell, of Dartmouth, is the owner of a young bull, “ Potomski,” seveneighths short-horn and one-eighth Alderney. He was bred by Mr. Rodman, and comes of superior milking stock.

ably of short-horn descent. However this may be, the merits of many Ayrshires of which we have knowledge cannot be questioned; and their reputation as dairy stock is considerable in this country. For our present purpose, it is proper to consider them as a distinct breed. As before remarked, the best Ayrshires are not unlike diminutive short-horns in general appearance, though they present a diversity in form and color not to be found in the older breed. They are commonly red and white, though black and brown hair often enters into the composition of their coats. As handlers they are deficient, and they are too small ever to become popular as working cattle or as subjects for the butcher.* It is as dairy stock alone that the Ayrshires have for some years maintained their reputation at home; and in that respect alone have they been considered worthy of attention on this side of the Atlantic. They are small and hardy, thrive on very moderate feed, and yield an abundance of good milk. This is the character claimed for them by their friends; and to a certain extent they have, in our own neighborhood, verified this reputation. They have so recently appeared among us that it is impossible to pronounce decidedly upon their power to permanently improve our native stock. But they certainly deserve a fair trial; and bulls of this family are doubtless far superior to the miserable native mongrels so commonly employed by our farmers.t

The farmers of Bristol County, in common with their brethren throughout the country, have had few opportunities to make themselves acquainted with the excellences of the Alderney; but as several gentlemen about New Bedford have become interested in this breed, and there is a probability that at no distant period the blood will not be uncommon in the county, it is proper to call attention to them in an article which pur. ports to point out the materials for improvement existing in

* It is notorious that well-bred short-horn bulls are to be found on the estates of the Ayrshire breeders in Scotland, confessedly for the purpose of getting stock for the butcher. Their presence on such estates must have the effect of strengthening the faith of those who question the claims of the Ayrshire cattle.

+ Colonel Page, of New Bedford, has a full-blooded Ayrshire bull of the Randall stock; and Jonathan Tripp, of Dartmouth, has a handsome grade Ayrshire from the blood of the Cushing importation.

our midst. The Alderney cattle are natives of Jersey and the Channel Islands, where they have been bred from time immemorial. They are very small; usually of a fawn and white, or brown and white color; though animals nearly black are not unfrequent. If we except a bright eye, delicate muzzle, and a sharp little horn, which give them a certain game look, these raw-boned little creatures can hardly be deemed beautiful. Probably four out of five of our farmers unacquainted with their merits would pass them by with derision, regarding them as ridiculous monsters in ugliness, if not in size. But let any one of these farmers behold a few pans of Alderney milk upon which the golden cream had risen, or spread upon bread the delicious butter made by his thrifty wife from that same cream, and these little cattle will be clothed with a beauty that the eye alone was unable to discover.

The Alderney cattle have always, as far back as their history extends, maintained an unrivalled reputation as producers of delicious cream, from which is made the finest butter. It is said that, wherever they have been introduced, these cattle have never failed to sustain their home reputation. Their yield in milk is never very large; but the milk is always exceedingly rich, producing rarely less than twenty-five, and often thirty-five, per cent. of rich cream, always of a deep golden hue. For a long period Alderney cows have been kept upon the estates of the nobility and wealthy gentlemen in England, to supply the tables of the proprietor with cream and butter of the finest quality; but they have never been kept in any considerable numbers by the farmers, who have found other breeds more profitable. Latterly, however, dairy farmers have become satisfied that they were doing well in giving a strain of this blood to their milking herd. Many years ago small importations of Alderney cattle were made into the United States, and their descendants are still known and appreciated. Within a few years these importations have been numerous, and we can now, by personal observation, test their good qualities. In 1851, Mr. Thomas Motley, Jr., of Jamaica Plain, was sent. abroad by the Massachusetts Agricultural Society for the ex. press purpose of selecting Alderneys to be introduced among the cattle of the State. How well he executed his mission,

may be seen in the herd now under his charge in West Roxbury. These animals are, by and by, to be distributed among the county agricultural societies of the State for the use of the public; and they cannot fail to prove of great value. Mr. John Wood, of New Bedford, exhibited a fine cow and calf of this breed at the recent cattle show. These were imported for Mr. Wood by that well-known stock breeder, John A. Taintor, Esq., of Hartford, and are, doubtless, superior speci. mens of the breed. We had reason to regret that the confusion attending a crowded and ill-arranged show ground prevented many from giving these interesting animals the examination they deserved; and we regret, too, that Mr. Wood failed to give us the result of his experience thus far in the value of his stock. Another year, we trust, will remedy these defects; and we cannot doubt that the lactometer and the churn of Mr. Wood will tell a story that will astonish the “natives" and their uncompromising advocates.* As a cross, the virtues of the Alderney are conspicuous in the richness and yellow color imparted to the milk. This improvement is observed even in remote connections—a convincing proof of the long establishment of this quality as a characteristic of the race, and of the certainty we may feel that the distinctive features and excel. lences of thorough-bred animals will be impressed upon their descendants.t

* Mr. Motley's imported Alderney cow, “Flora,” made five hundred and eleven and three-fourths pounds of butter from May 10, 1853, to April 26, 1854. For three consecutive weeks in June she made fourteen pounds of butter per week, never giving over fourteen quarts of strained milk in a single day. For several weeks she made an average of one pound of butter from five quarts of milk ; and even a little less has made a pound of butter.

Mr. Motley found that, in a herd of thirteen cows,-one short-horn, one Ayrshire, two half-breed Alderneys, and nine full-breed Alderneys,-an average of seven and a half quarts of milk made a pound of butter in the month of November; feed, hay and one peck of carrots per day.

One Alderney cow made six pounds of butter in a week, in March, nine months after calving. A four-year-old heifer, of the same breed, made in the month of April twelve and a quarter pounds of butter three weeks after calying. She gave milk to within thirty days of calving, and never less than three quarts per day.

These are facts, and speak volumes in favor of the Alderney when we remember that animals of this breed are very small, and consume but little food compared with the larger breeds.

+ Mr. Rodman's cows have never lost the evidence of their partial descent from the Alderney, though many of them have now but a remote relation to that stock.

« PreviousContinue »