Imagens das páginas

stitution were manifested. It may be pursued for a time, until the type is developed; but to continue for any length of time to breed in and in, is not only against my experience, but, I believe, against nature.

On looking over a herd of breeding cattle, I have often seen the owner or the cattle-keeper pointing out a cow that throws a good calf, and never threw a bad one, and at the same time telling you how great a milker she is. It would be difficult to buy such a cow too dear. Most of the above remarks may apply alike to the home farm of the proprietor, to the large and small farmer, and to the crofter with one cow. It is well known to breeders of cattle, and I believe of sheep, that there are particular races that are celebrated, and upon which you can calculate that they will never propagate an inferior animal. Specimens not so desirable will now and again appear, but the blood is there, and the divergence will not be great from the desired type. Again, there will be one race noted for producing celebrated males, and another for producing celebrated females. A bull may be introduced that is a great getter of bull calves, yet the change may not be to the advantage of the owner, as the female calves will not be bred of so high an order. Professor Thury, of Geneva, has written a very interesting paper on the law of the production of sexes. In a letter to me, dated 14th February 1864, he says: “There are, if the owner pleases, two periods of heating: the one the general period, which shows itself in the course of the year, following the seasons; the other, a particular period, which lasts in cows from twenty-four to forty-eight hours, and which reveals itself a certain number of times. It is this particular period, lasting from twentyfour to forty-eight hours, the commencement of which gives females, while its termination gives males. In order that we may obtain a certain result, we must not cause the same cow to be covered twice in succession at an interval too short, for the (generative) substance of the bull preserves itself for a time sufficiently long in the organs of the cow. In the experiments made in Switzerland we have taken the cow at the first certain signs of heating, for the purpose of obtaining heifers, and at the termination of the heating for the purpose of obtaining males. The result of these experiments is, that we do not yet know what is the relative length of time which gives females, and the time which gives males ; this would form an interesting subject of examination. I am of opinion that various circumstances must be regarded as influencing the relative period, so as to alter the moment of (conception), and that the season must exercise considerable influence. I am of opinion that in such questions as that which forms the subject of my little work, we physiologists should learn much from men of practice and experience such as you, who have afforded proofs of their knowledge. The best results will follow when the raisers and experimentalists direct their attention to the same object.” I would here acknowledge the courtesy and kindness of Professor Thury in so readily responding to my inquiries. The experiments conducted in Switzerland were decisive in support of Professor Thury's theory. In a trial of twenty-eight cows, it proved correct in the whole number.

In the selection of the male, you will have to consider the faulty or defective points in your cows with a view to correct them. As far as possible—pedigree being right-you ought to purchase the bull that is strong upon the points where your females are faulty. If this is not duly attended to, the defect or malformation may be aggravated. But although the bull selected possesses the excellence wanting in the cows, he ought, of course, not to be very deficient in other points, else the cure may be worse than the disease. If possible, he should be taken from a pasture not superior to your own. Docility of temper in male and female is indispensable. Inexpressible mischief may be done by the in

troduction of wild blood into the herd, for it is sure to be inherited. I have suffered seriously by this error.

To be good behind the shoulder, good in the girth, and well down in the fore-rib, are the qualifications most difficult to attain. Lightness of the fore-rib shows a tendency to delicacy of constitution, and strength and soundness are most important to the success of the breeder. Depth of rib is more important in the male than in the female. Lightness of the fore-rib may be tolerated when milk is the object (and many great milkers are so characterised), but not where the production of beef is the object. Then you must study to combine quality with weight. Quality ought to be the first consideration, but we must never forget that all must come to lbs. at last.

I have already given my opinion as to the shape and quality of a perfect breeding and feeding animal. I shall only here remark that it is indispensable in our cold climate that the animals should have a good coat of soft silky hair to defend them from the cold blasts of autumn, winter, and spring.

The Rev. H. Berry, in his Essay on Breeding, remarks : “A person selecting a stock from which to breed, notwithstanding he has set up for himself a standard of perfection, will obtain them with qualifications of different descriptions, and in different degrees. In breeding from such he will exercise his judgment, and decide what are indispensable or desirable qualities, and will cross with animals with a view to establish them. This proceeding will be of the 'give-and-take’ kind. He will submit to the introduction of a trifling defect, in order that he may profit by a great excellence; and between excellences perhaps somewhat incompatible he will decide on which is the greatest, and give it the preference. To a person commencing improvement, the best advice is to get as good a bull as he can; and if he be a good one of his kind, to use him indiscriminately with all his cows; and when by this proceeding, which ought to be persisted in, his stock has, with an occasional change of bull, become sufficiently stamped with desirable excellences, his selection of males should then be inade, to eradicate defects which he thinks it desirable to get rid of. He will not fail to keep in view the necessity of good blood in the bulls resorted to, for that will give the only assurance that they will transmit their own valuable properties to their offspring ; but he must not depend on this alone, or he will soon run the risk of degeneracy."

I agree generally with the above extract from Mr Berry's most valuable prize essay; but I must take exception to at once using even the best bull indiscriminately for a large and valuable herd of breeding cows. I hold that every bull must be tested ; and when the result is found satisfactory, then, and not till then, use him indiscriminately for all your cows. My experience coincides with Mr Berry's where he says the wise breeder “will not fail to keep in view the necessity of good blood in the bulls resorted to, for that will give the only assurance that they will transmit their own valuable properties to their offspring; but he must not depend on this alone, or he will soon run the risk of degeneracy.” To keep up a breeding stock to a high point of excellence is very difficult. The breeder ought to be always buying and selling and incorporating different strains together. There will be many blanks, but there will be a prize : and when you hit, and the incorporation proves a lasting benefit and is stamped on the original herd, it is a great prize you have won. Lord Fife's herd, already alluded to, is an illustration of this. I therefore agree with Mr Berry that we must not depend alone upon the good blood of the bull.

Having done my best to explain how I think the foundation of a breeding stock should be laid, I shall now give my opinion and experience as to how the herd · should be treated, and how it should be kept up. The cows, heifers, and bulls should be kept fresh, not fat,

nor too lean. Forcing for the show-yard is a most ruinous practice for breeding stock. The calves should have a different treatment. All breeding cattle tied to the stall should be let out every day for two or three hours, or at least every second day, unless the weather be very wet or stormy. The finer the quality of the stock the less rich will be the food they require. It is only throwing away your means to give high-bred cows with calf, or heifers rising two years old, a full supply of turnips. A few to keep them fresh and healthy, and plenty of straw, is all they should be allowed. Bulls that are apt to accumulate fat should also be stinted, else they will soon be useless as stock-getters. After calving, the cows, to secure a flow of milk, should receive a full allowance of turnips, but the increase must be gradual, as the cow has been stinted, or ought to have been, before calving. Before calving, milk-fever, or dropping after calving, is to be guarded against. I have had three or four cases with only one recovery. I now bleed and physic every cow two or three days before calving. I stint them in their food two or three weeks, and have never lost one where this practice was fully carried out.

The lean cow is as apt to go down as the fat one. Some think warm weather is the cause. I believe it has nothing to do with it. The grass being generally luxuriant in warm weather, and many cows going off in milk-fever at that season, has led to this error. Milkfever may, however, be produced by giving cold water immediately after calving, &c. Cows may be attacked immediately or in a few hours after calving; when four or five days have passed, the animal may be considered safe. There are different causes, no doubt ; but bringing a cow from poor pasture and putting her on a rich and luxuriant one without stint, or from straw and giving her a full allowance of turnips up to the time of calving, are two of the greatest predisposing causes. As an example, I bought a cow in July off a poor pasture and put her on a rich one; as she was

« AnteriorContinuar »