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at the Spey and Avonside Agricultural Society's shows. He has won the first prize for cows for the last two years—no small victory, when he had Sir George Macpherson Grant and Mr Paterson to contend against. He has also had his fair share of prizes for bulls, heifers, and bullocks. A bullock bred at Drumin took the first prize at Liverpool, in the Polled class, in December last. Mr Skinner has not exhibited his stock at the Highland Society's shows, but there is no doubt we shall see them there by-and-by.*
* Mr Skinner was an exhibitor at the Highland Society's show at Aberdeen last summer, and gained the first prize for his two-year-old heifer.
V. HINTS ON THE BEEEDING AND CAEE OF CATTLE.
It has been suggested to me that I should add my experience as a breeder of Aberdeen and Angus stock to my observations on the feeding of cattle. It is with considerable hesitation that I have ventured to put upon paper my views upon a subject on which there is such diversity of opinion. It will, however, lessen the field of controversy, that my practice and observations apply only to the Aberdeen and Angus breed; although I presume what applies to one breed may apply in a great degree to all. My observations may be of some use to those readers who have not devoted much attention to the subject; they may prove of interest even to more experienced breeders, should I be able to adduce facts that may have escaped their notice, or in confirmation of their own observations. I can hardly speak with the same authority as a breeder, generally, that I can as a feeder; yet I have been a close observer now for many years, and devoted my earnest attention to the improvement of the Aberdeen and Angus polled breed of cattle, with respect to size, symmetry, fineness of bone, strength of constitution, and disposition to accumulate fat, sparing no expense in obtaining the finest animals from the purest stock.
Laying the foundation of a breeding stock will be the first matter under consideration. We are met here at the very outset by the advocates of blood and those of selection. Much may be said and volumes have been written in favour of both. My experience leads me to take a middle course between the two, and to keep in view both the one and the other. With respect to the qualifications of a successful breeder, Darwin writes: "Not one man in a thousand has accuracy of eye and judgment sufficient to become an eminent breeder. If gifted with these qualities, and he studies the subject for years, and devotes his lifetime to it with indomitable perseverance, he will succeed and make great improvements; and if he wants any of these qualities he will assuredly fail." Darwin's view will be found pretty correct. Many breed with a certain success, and even rush to the top for a time in the show-yard, but it is only those described by Darwin who will finally succeed. In laying the foundation of a breeding stock there is generally one of two objects in view: either, first, to raise up a herd the best of its race, with a view to competition in the show-yard and to improve it to the utmost; or, second, to breed commercial cattle for commercial purposes with the greatest possible profit. The first requires independent means; and, to secure success, skill, perseverance, and patience under heavy disappointments. The second can be attained by ordinary prudence. If the first object be the one aimed at, the selection should be made from the most established herds, and of animals of pedigree, and possessing the characteristics of the race you intend to propagate. But my attention will be more particularly directed to the second. There are few that have hatfuls of money to expend upon the purchase of high-bred animals; nor is this necessary in order to secure a profitable return from a breeding stock
I would recommend the following method: I shall suppose a farmer wishes to buy twenty cows to stock his farm (Aberdeen and Angus cattle). His entry is, say, at Whitsunday. He must have a bull to serve his cows. He should be selected from an established herd and from a race of good milkers. . The farmer must be a good judge, or employ one in whom he has implicit confidence to act in his behalf. In his selection he must have a certain model in his eye, such as he wishes to propagate. I assume that he considered that his farm is adapted for the rearing of the Aberdeen and Angus breed of cattle, and is convinced of their hardihood of constitution being adapted to his soil and the climate. He ought to keep to certain ground in his selection; that, namely, where the polled breed are still in a state of purity, as in Angus, Aberdeen, Kincardine, Banff, and Moray shires. He ought to visit 'the Alford district, and all to the west of Alford. On the Spey he will find cattle well worth his attention. They are not of large size generally, but many of fine quality. In the neighbourhood of Dufftown, and west from Dufftown, there are many useful beasts. The Mearns and Angus he should carefully examine, visiting the farms where polled cattle are bred. The wealthy breeder, No. 1, may look to the honours of the show-yard; but No. 2, with his limited means, must have regard only to his ultimate profit.
As it is a Whitsunday entry, he ought to have the lot made up, and the bull put to them in season, that he may not lose a year. The cows he buys will give milk to the house, and the two-year-old heifers will be easily kept on. I speak on the supposition that cows and heifers are bought, but the majority should be heifers. He ought to attend all the fairs in his power through spring, and be on the instant ready to pick up a suitable beast wherever it appears, which he can always do at market value. He ought to select the best heifers or cows (duly informing himself as to their breeding) from the different districts I have named. The produce, after a first-class bull, will be astonishing. The cows that throw the best calves should be retained, while those that "cry back" should be dismissed, and their places filled up with a new selection. By careful breeding for two years there will be a most useful profitable breeding stock established, and there is no doubt that even some good races may be secured. We have ample experience and proof of this in the good calves thrown by our worthless little black polled country cows, and it is on my experience of this fact that my recommendation is founded. For twoyear-olds rising three, out of small cows, I have at Christmas got £40 from the butcher. Purity of blood in the male will be found highly to improve inferior races. A herd of breeding stock without the risk of haphazard will be secured at a moderate cost—one that will be profitable to the owner.
The following remarks apply partly to a showyard herd, and partly to one for commercial purposes. In the original selection, as I have already observed, the breeder must have in his eye the model he wishes to propagate. The animals selected should approach the desired type as nearly as can be obtained; and by careful and repeated selections the ideal may be reached. The selector must be well satisfied as to soundness of constitution, especially in laying the