Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

through the winter upon cake, corn, brewers' wash, grains, or potatoes, and kept in hot byres or close strawyards, and look to them to pay a rent, you will find that they will soon make a poor man of you. This mode of feeding is unnatural. Before the animals begin to improve, three months will have passed. If half-fat cattle are bought, which have been kept close in byres or strawyards, and put to grass in April or the first two weeks of May, and cold stormy weather sets in, with no covering to defend them, they will fall off so much that the purchaser will scarcely believe they are the beasts he bought. Thus he not only loses all his grass, but the beasts will be lighter at the end of three months than when they were put into the field. Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I do not mean to say that a few weeks of a little cake or corn will ruin a beast for grazing ; but you may depend upon it, that the less artificial food given during winter the better. When kept upon the food I have specified for months and months, they are perfectly unfit for grazing. I regard cake as the safest substitute for turnips; and corn, potatoes, brewers' wash and grain, as the worst. But my ambition is to graze a bullock that has never been forced, and has never tasted cake, corn, or potatoes. The store cattle I winter for grazing are all kept in open strawyards, with a sufficient covering for bad weather, and as dry a bed as the quantity of straw will permit. This is indispensable for the thriving of the cattle. I winter such a large number, however, that latterly I have been obliged to tie up some of my wintering cattle, very much against my will. They receive as many turnips as they can eat. Beasts must always be kept progressing; if they are not, they will never pay. My store cattle never see cake, corn, or potatoes. I would rather throw potatoes to the dunghill than give them to a store bullock, though I would give them to my fatting bullocks.*

* As to giving potatoes to store cattle, since writing the above If I can get the bullocks for grazing that I want, I will not lose one mouthful of grass upon them. They will not go on, however, without proper care and superintendence. It requires a practised eye. If a grazier has a number of fields and many cattle, to carry out the treatment of his cattle properly, shifting and fresh grass once in ten or fourteen days should, if possible, be adopted. This has always been my practice. In one day I have observed a marked difference in the improvement of animals after the shift.

The grazier must always consider the quality of his grass-land, and buy cattle adapted for it. It would be very bad policy to buy fine cattle for poor or middling lands. You must always keep in view how the cattle have been kept. If they have been kept improperly for your purpose, their size, whether large or small, will not save you from loss. If the cattle are kept on cake, corn, potatoes, or brewers' wash or grain, during the previous winter, it will be ruin to the grazier; a small quantity, however, will not unfit a bullock for profitable grazing. Let it not be supposed, however, that I recommend buying lean, half-starved beasts. What I wish to impress on you is, that you must keep the cattle always full of flesh; and as a breeder, you must be careful not to lose the calf flesh.

I wish to modify, to a certain extent, the opinion I have expressed. I had a conversation with Mr Hope on the subject, and he states that his belief is, that potatoes are not prejudicial to the growth of store cattle when put to grass, and that his practice is to give them potatoes. I will admit that a few potatoes may not do a store beast much harm; but in my experience in Aberdeenshire I have found that in cattle which have been fed with potatoes the black colour changes to a dusty brown : they are also bad thrivers. A beast that sports that colour is never doing well. I shall, however, prosecute the inquiry.—[Since writing the above note in 1869, my views have been confirmed as to the bad effects of giving corn, potatoes, brewers' wash or grains, to cattle intended for grass. I avoid buying animals that have been kept any length of time in that manner. It requires three or four months to extract the poison; and however good the land they are put upon may be, they will not improve—they rather get lighter than heavier.]

If you do so by starving the animal at any time of his growth, you lose the crearn—the covering of flesh so much prized by all our best retail butchers. Where do all the scraggy, bad-fleshed beasts come from that we see daily in our fat markets, and what is the cause of their scragginess ? It is because they have been stinted and starved at some period of their growth. If the calf flesh is once lost, it can never be regained. A great deal of tallow may be got internally by high feeding, but the animal can never again be made one that will be prized by the great retail butcher. Our Aberdeen working bullocks carry little good meat. Draught as well as starvation takes off the flesh. They are generally only fit for ship beef.

Let me now offer a few observations as to the breeds of cattle best adapted for paying a rent—the great object of our cattle rearing and feeding. I have grazed the pure Aberdeen and Angus, the Aberdeen and Northcountry crosses, the Highland, the Galloways, and what is termed in Angus the South-country cattle, the Dutch, and the Jutland. Except the two latter, all the others have got a fair trial. I am aware that the merits of the pure Aberdeen and Angus form a difficult and delicate subject to deal with. I know that the breeders of shorthorns will scrutinise my statements carefully. But my only object is to lay down my own experience, and I trust that I have divested myself of prejudice as much as possible. If store cattle of the Aberdeen and Angus breed out of our best herds can be secured, I believe no other breed of cattle will pay the grazier more money in the north for the same value of keep. But there is a race of starved vermin which is known by some in the north by the name of “Highland hummlies,” which I consider the worst of all breeds. No keep will move them much. At the top of these I must place those with the brown ridge along the back. They can be made older, but it takes more ability than I ever had to make them much bigger. Keep is entirely thrown away upon such animals. As regards good Aberdeen or North-country crosses, they are rent-payers. He would be very prejudiced indeed who would not acknowledge their merits. I graze more cross-bred cattle than pure-bred polled. The Highlanders on our land are not profitable. They do not grow nearly so fast as our own cattle, and are more difficult to make fat. They are of such a restless disposition that they are unsuitable for stall-feeding, however well they are adapted for grazing purposes in certain localities and under certain conditions. But, I repeat, for stall-feeding they are unsuitable; confinement is unnatural to their disposition. The last Highlanders I attempted to feed were bought at a cheap time. In the month of June they were most beautiful animals, and they grazed fairly. I tied them up; but they broke loose again and again, and ran three miles off to the glen where they had been grazed. There was one of them that his keeper never dared to approach, and the stall had to be cleaned out with a long crook. They consumed few turnips, and did not pay sixpence for what turnips they did consume. No other description of cattle, however, is so beautiful for noblemen's and gentlemen's parks.

As to the Galloway cattle, they also have had a fair trial with me. I was in the habit of buying for years, from one of the most eminent judges of store Galloways in Britain—Captain Kennedy of Bennane-a lot of that breed. He selected them generally when stirks from all the eminent breeders of Galloway cattle, and bought nearly all the prize stirks at the different shows. In fact, he would not see a bad Galloway on his manors. The Galloway has undoubtedly many great qualifications. On poor land they are unrivalled, except perhaps by the small Highlanders. Captain Kennedy's cattle always paid me; they were grazed on a 100-acre park of poor land-80 poor, indeed, that our Aberdeens could not subsist upon it. I had ultimately to break it up

for cropping. If I had not been obliged to do this, I should not have liked to have missed Captain Kennedy's Galloways. Although the Galloways are such good cattle to graze—and this goes to prove the truth of my remarks as to the forcing system, the Galloways at Glenapp being wintered out-they are not so easily finished as our Aberdeen and Angus or cross-bred cattle. They have too much thickness of skin and hair, too much timber in their legs; they are too thick in their tails, too deep in their necks, too sunken in the eye, for being very fast feeders. It is difficult to make them ripe; in many cases it is impossible, even though you keep the animals until their heads turn grey. You can bring them to be three-quarters fat, and there they stick; it is difficult to give them the last dip. If, however, you succeed in doing so, there is no other breed worth more by the pound weight than a first-class Galloway.

As to what we term the South-country cattle, I have also given them a trial. My experience is that they are great beasts to grow ; that they consume an immense deal of food, but that they are difficult to finish; and when finished they are very indifferent sellers in the London market. They generally carry a deal of offal along with them; but those who have patience, and keep them for many months, they may pay for keep. I have had a few German and Jutland cattle through my hands, but not in sufficient numbers to enable me to say anything about them worthy of your notice. I have had very little experience as to Irish cattle. I dislike to see them. They have introduced pleuropneumonia and foot-and-mouth disease into this country. They are sold big for the money; and so they ought to be, for they are slow to move, and bad sellers in the end. Buyers of Irish cattle must always run a great risk of introducing disease into their stock; but they cannot be dispensed with, owing to the scarcity of store cattle. If we had confidence in their soundness, they would

« AnteriorContinuar »