Though Shorthorns were my first love, Jerseys were my ultimate choice, and the breed which I know really well. Though, as a student of cattle breeding, I am a keen observer of the performances of all breeds, I cannot claim impartiality in advising on the choice of breed. So I have asked eight well-known breeders to write about their breeds from their first-hand experience. I have added information on the breed points supplied by the breed societies. Much of this section has already appeared in The Farmer, the organic farming quarterly.
When I decided that pedigree cattle were as cheap to keep as mongrels, and what is far more important, a good deal dearer to sell, the problem of choosing a breed was not easy. I had been reared on heavy breeds and so I started with a strong prejudice against the Jersey. It was the purchase of two cheap first-calf heifers for the house which demonstrated to me the amazing ability of these little animals to convert food into milk at a remarkably low cost.
I bought a few more and proceeded to keep careful records of food consumption in relation to milk production of the three breeds which I then had, Shorthorn, Friesian, and the crosses of these two, compared with the Jersey.
The following figures which give the only true test of a cow, that is cost per gallon, in relation to body weight, indicated more clearly to me than any examination with the eye or prejudice of the mind, that if milk production was to be my business then the Jersey must be my breed.
Approximate Body Name of Cow Breed Yield Cost per Weight gallon lb. lb. s. d. 1,250 Annabelle Shorthorn 9,819-1/2 1 3 1,200 Prosperous 2nd Shorthorn x Friesian 8,368-3/4 1 6 1,400 Beauty Shorthorn x Friesian 17,256 1 0 1,300 Prosperous Friesian 13,808 1 4 850 Fair Aldan Jersey 11,721-3/4 7 700 June Rose Jersey 8,002=3/4 8-1/2 750 Poppy Jersey 8,733 7-1/2 700 Yetanother Jersey 8,890 8
It should be noted that these costs were calculated in 1945 when prices were considerably lower than they are to-day. They were arrived at by a daily recording of milk yielded and total food fed. The cost of food fed to each cow was added to an averaged labour cost per cow and this figure was divided by the gallonage of milk given in the lactation. It should not be forgotten that the cost of labour for the cows needing more food would undoubtedly be higher, but as I could evolve no way of apportioning so exactly the labour, an average labour cost had to be used. I could, of course, have apportioned labour costs according to the amount of food fed but at the time I felt this too involved. Additionally it should be borne in mind that the price realizable for Jersey milk is at least 4d. a gallon more than most other breeds because of the quality (i.e. butterfat) premium.
What are the reasons for the remarkable efficiency of the Jersey? Well, there are many.
The Jersey, unlike almost any other breed of dairy cow, except perhaps the Guernsey and the Kerry, has not suffered from exploitive methods of management. Until recently, that is almost right up to the war, the Jersey farmer has practised a balanced system of farming and has fed his cows naturally with no attempt to extract excessive yields of milk. Only one or two of the larger herds concentrated on milk yield, and even then not at the expense of butterfat and type. Similarly in this country the Jersey was in the hands of breeders who considered high milk yields unimportant, for in view of the Jersey's inability to convert food to body fat, she was always in any case an economical and efficient producer. Consequently the majority of Jerseys have an inheritance of health and sound constitution.
The old fallacy that Jerseys are delicate has been long disproved. It probably arose in the first place because wealthy people who kept a few cows for the house treated them as pets and the onlooker assumed that such treatment was essential. The fact that the Jersey more than any other breed shows remarkable sleekness of coat after being rugged has also encouraged breeders to make too much use of the rug at shows, and this of course has fostered the belief that the Jersey is delicate. Commercial farmers have, however, now discovered the remarkable hardiness and adaptability of the Jersey.
My animals live almost entirely out of doors, and under such conditions they grow thick shaggy protective coats which retain body heat in winter so effectively that in extremely frosty weather they often come in to milking with white hoar frost and icicles on their hair.
Long Productive Life
The Jersey is early maturing and will produce a calf and 700 or so gallons of milk before most other breeds calve down. But I don't stick too strictly to a rigid bulling age. Though fifteen months (to calve the first calf at two years old) is no doubt the ideal for a well-grown heifer, I have them bulled at from fifteen to twenty months old according to growth and general condition.
Longevity is a valuable characteristic of the Jersey and this again is due to the freedom from exploitation and artificial feeding almost right up to 1940, in the Jersey breed. Given a reasonably natural existence, especially with regard to rearing and feeding, the Jersey will produce economically and breed consistently up to the age of fourteen to twenty. I have a number of cattle between those ages, and one now twenty-two years old, and I expect all my home-bred cattle to serve me efficiently up to the age of twenty.
The Jersey is supreme as a producer of butterfat, a fact which I believe is in some way related to the extensive use of seaweed in manuring the soil of Jersey. The factor in food which goes to the making of fat in the case of the Jersey appears to convert all food to butterfat rather than body fat, at any rate during lactation. No one has yet explained the relationship of food to milk fat and body fat but there is no question about the difficulty of fattening a Jersey compared with every other breed, or the supremacy of the Jersey as a converter of foodstuffs to butterfat. It just happens that with the Jersey there is some unknown factor which transfers the food the cow consumes via the udder to the bucket, instead of on to the ribs. And while there is a choice of breed it doesn't matter if we cannot discover this secret.
In open competition with other breeds, particularly in production tests, the Jersey has also demonstrated its supremacy.
The two most important competitions in the dairy farming world are the Harold Jackson Trophy and the National Milk Cup. Each has in the last fifteen years gone more often to the Jersey than to any other breed. The Jersey is the only breed to have won the Harold Jackson Trophy as many as five years in succession. The Harold Jackson Trophy is awarded to the cow of any breed gaining most points for milk and butterfat over a period of three years. The National Milk Cup is awarded to the cow of any breed yielding the most milk and butterfat in relation to bodyweight. It is the only National Trophy which gives a true test of efficient production, though I understand there is an International Trophy shortly to be presented by the well-known cattle judge, R. W. (Bob) Carson, for annual competition which will take account of all relevant factors. All other trophies are awarded for yield regardless of body weight, which, where cost of production is to be considered, means nothing. The real test of the breeds is the efficiency of the cow as a converter of food into milk and butterfat and in this respect, both in any costings that have been carried out, and in open competition where the ratio of body weight is taken into account, the Jersey has so far proved supreme.
My own methods of animal husbandry are simple, and they are elaborated in other parts of this book. They are based on an attempt to breed, rear and generally keep the cow under conditions as near to natural as possible. This is the only way to breed the solid structure of health which is essential to efficient production. With each generation I can be more certain of an inheritance of health without which it is useless to select and breed for profitable milk production. By these methods I have eliminated the greatest drains on the income of the dairy farm which are losses from disease and the vet.'s bill (except for tests which are necessitated by official schemes and sales).
Except in emergency the animals are fed on home-grown food, the basis of which in the summer is the herbal ley containing as wide a variety of herbs as it is possible to obtain. Each year I seek sources of herbs hitherto unused in the ley to incorporate in the mixture. I believe that garlic taken in small quantities, in conjunction with other herbs, will prove immensely beneficial to the cow, without tainting the milk. It is when it is taken in large quantities alone, on occasion when the cow finds this valuable herb in a formerly undiscovered corner, that she gorges herself with relish and in consequence taints her milk.
Seaweeds of various kinds form the best mineral supplement, used as a manure on the land, or in dry powdered form in the meal ration, being organic and quite harmless.
In the winter the basis of the maintenance ration is silage, which is fed in quantities up to 60 lb. each daily according to availability and requirements. Oat straw forms the dry bulky food necessary to assist cudding, and this is cut on the green side and tripodded, so that in feeding value it is equal to much of the hay at present made in this country. Having assured the ample bulky food which is natural and essential to the health of the cow, production ration made up of three lbs. of ground oats, and one lb. of linseed is the normal allowance per gallon of milk after the second gallon.
No animal is fed to yield more than her inherent capacity, that is, what she will give on entirely home-grown food of low protein ratio. Excessive protein feeding, in concentrated form, over-stimulates the cow, and results in the digestive troubles such as acetonaemia. Yet my herd average had reached 813 gallons last year (excluding two animals which were in the herd for treatment).
All calves are reared on cows, a system which I consider imperative to the future health of my herd. The foundation of vigorous life is laid by nature via the dam in the first weeks and months of life, and to deprive any living thing of its natural food, containing essential elements and vital forces which are incapable of human measurement or substitution, is to guarantee disease and infertility in future life.
35. The Guernsey bull
36. The Guernsey cow
The leys which are the basis of all our feeding are planned primarily for grazing, and hay or silage are taken when, as invariably happens each summer, one of the paddocks grows ahead of the herd. Other crops are grown for silage, mainly oats and vetches, and a few acres of lucerne are kept for green feeding, silage or tripodded hay.
The leys are divided into paddocks of 3 to 4 acres each with an electric fence, and grazing is continuous at the rate of about ten cows to the acre. A field is kept from mid-August until November and then strip grazed through November, December, January and February, allowing a few yards, across the full width of the field, each day. Grazing in this way, and with the ample herbs in the mixture, there is no risk of blowing, a trouble which is common with leys of simple seeds mixtures without the herbs. More detailed feeding calculations are given in the chapter, 'Feeding the Dairy Herd'.
Given this basis of natural diet, it is rarely we find any veterinary treatment is needed. Should there be any minor illness, resulting from carelessness, temptation to overfeed, inherited predisposition to certain complaints like mastitis and sterility, we are not troubled for more than a matter of hours. Immediate fasting combined with the herbal treatment set out in the latter part of this book, will effect quick and complete cure. These pages describe the simple natural treatment of most cattle diseases, authenticated by the experience of many other successful users of my methods.
On a basis of sound health and constitution we rely on selection and breeding for raising our herd average, rather than upon the feeding of high protein concentrates, or limitation of bulk in the ration. A high herd average which is built on artificial methods such as overfeeding with stimulating foods, encouraging the animal by 'pre-milking' to give milk before she gives a calf, and other artificial perversions of nature, can in the long run achieve nothing but the unbalancing of the reproductive system, a condition which is already evident in the widespread breeding troubles among dairy cattle. My methods improve yields by selection for health, constitution, butter-fat, and type, as well as mere milk.
37. The Dairy Shorthorn bull
38 The Dairy Shorthorn cow
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A JERSEY
Points of the Bull points HeadBroad, fine; horns small and incurving; eye full and lively 5 MuzzleBroad, encircled by a light colour, nostrils high, open; cheek, small 5 NeckArched, powerful and clean at the throat 7 WithersFine; shoulders flat and sloping 5 LungCapacity as indicated by depth and breadth immediately behind the shoulders 8 BarrelDeep, broad and long, denoting large capacity; ribs rounding in shape 12 BackStraight from withers to setting of tail; croup and setting on not coarse 10 HipsWide apart, rather prominent and fine in the bone 5 LoinsBroad and strong 5 LegsRather short, fine in the bone, squarely placed, and not to cross or sweep in walking 5 TeatsRudimentary, squarely placed and wide apart 5 TailThin, reaching the hocks with good switch 2 Well grown according to age 3 HideThin, loose and mellow 5 Showing a yellow colour on skin and horns 3 General appearanceDenoting a high class male animal, typical, and of a class suitable for reproduction 15 Total 100 Points of the Cow points HeadFine; face dished; cheek fine; throat clean 4 NostrilsHigh and open; muzzle encircled by a light colour 2 Hornssmall and incurving; eye full and placid 2 NeckStraight, thin and long, and lightly placed on shoulders 5 LungCapacity as indicated by width and depth through body immediately behind the shoulders 3 BarrelDeep, broad and long, denoting large capacity; ribs rounding in shape 10 BackStraight from withers to setting of tail, croup and setting on not coarse 6 WithersFine and not coarse at point of shoulders 4 HipsWide apart, rather prominent and fine in the bone 2 Hind LegsSquarely placed when viewed from behind and not to cross or sweep in walking 2 TailThin, reaching the hocks, good switch 2 UdderLarge, not fleshy, and well balanced 10 Fore-udderFull and running well forward 10 Rear-udderWell up, protruding behind and not rounding abruptly at the top 8 TeatsOf good uniform length and size, wide apart and squarely placed 7 Milk VeinsLarge and prominent 3 RichnessAs indicated by yellow colour on horns, escutcheons and inside of ears 3 SkinThin, loose and mellow 4 Growth 3 General AppearanceDenoting a high class and economical dairy cow 10 Total 100
by G. F. DEE SHAPLAND
It is indeed difficult to answer in a few words why I keep Guernseys, but I think the best way is to give the various points, and then to elaborate upon each.
That the Guernsey is hardy cannot be denied as she is found all over this country from Cornwall to Scotland, in U.S.A., Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Australia, to mention just a few of the climates that suit her.
Many herds are maintained out of doors all the year round, indeed one on the Scottish border, over 600 feet up, averages 1,000 gallons a year under commercial conditions. With my own herd they come in at night when the pastures get too wet, not for the cow's sake, but because of the poaching that would otherwise occur.
Calves are all weaned at three days, and bucket-fed from the dam's milk, usually four pints per feed, twice daily. The heifer calf continues with this, and a little fine hay when old enough, for two months, when a milk substitute is added pint for pint of the milk, with a little cake and meal, until the calf is entirely on milk substitute. At five months they are weaned entirely from the bucket and then get a mixture of dredge corn (rolled) with a little linseed cake, calf cake, bran, flake maize, etc., as available, to which is added Cod Liver Oil, and 1 per cent of minerals. Mineral salt licks are always available. The calves have a 'good do' until twelve months old, when they are turned out, and do not come home again until four weeks from calving. Our heifers get no other food from twelve months old, but hay and grass, and we find they have done equally as well as their predecessors before the war, that had a cake ration.
It is not necessary to have a very rich farm for Guernseys, indeed some of the best results have come from herds maintained on poor farms. Very rich conditions are sometimes responsible for a fattening of the young stock and milking herd, and under these conditions much milk is often lost. The cows work better in a good hard condition.
Heifers calve in from two to three years, and are bred according to size more than age. I consider here that heifers should average at least three gallons per day, which at two years old (nine months to a year earlier than some breeds), and receiving 4d. per gallon over pool price, makes the breed a very commercial proposition. The breed is excellent when subjected to the Tuberculin Test, and most Guernsey herds are attested.
T.T. Guernsey milk is a good seller, and it is true to say that once a housewife has had a good supply she will not readily have any other. She looks for the golden cream line on the bottle. Many herds of Guernseys have been started by the retailer asking the farmer to improve his quality and colour; a few Guernseys are mixed with the herd, and usually do so well that a complete herd is formed. Travelling around the country, one sees a large number of herds that contain one or two Guernseys, which signifies that not only does the churn benefit, but the farmer's wife enjoys some 'golden butter'.
Guernsey cattle are very docile and are equally happy tethered or running loose. This tethering, so useful on grass verges, poultry pens, etc., encourages the extreme docility, or rather friendliness of the animals. Heifers coming home for the first time are soon led by a halter, and tied up without any trouble. Bulls should always be tethered. Never run them loose, as this encourages the natural protective spirit, and often makes handling difficult later on.
The cows are easy milkers with an udder that collapses well after milking, and the breed appears to take well to either hand or machine.
A commercial herd should have no trouble in maintaining an 800 gallon average, and a calf a year. My average here for 1949 is 970 gallons in 305 days, average butterfat 4.69. Five heifers averaged 898 gallons, calving index, 378 days. The herd average includes two old cows, twelve and thirteen years, from which we tried to breed just one more calf, these old ones always reduce our average, which has been over 900 gallons for the past sixteen years.
Our herd was exhibited before the war with great success, many championships being won, but perhaps the best performances were the winning of the Harold Jackson trophy in 1936 with a homebred cow, and winning with 'Cis of North Valley' the supreme production championship at the Bath and West Show at Bridgwater in 1939. Cis gave over 75 lb. of milk, and churned over 4 lb. of butter in twenty-four hours.
The herd is closely bred, a number of cows, daughters of the famous 'Camilla's Majestic III of Maple Lodge', were bred to a half-brother with success, and now to a grandson 'Zenita's Dairyman of the Fontaines'.
The herd is maintained at about 56 head on 90 acres.
The Cow I Want
Big cows with fine bone, with great capacity are favoured, and are maintained in a lean condition.
Cows that put flesh on their backs are not favoured, as I consider that this animal cannot look after her back and put fat into the udder.
The Guernsey breed has gained many new members during the past few years, and membership of the E.G.C.S. is about 3,000. The terrific demand for "Golden Milk," rich milk with a delightful flavour all its own, ensures that the breed will continue to attract commercial farmers in ever increasing numbers. If a surplus of milk should ever come back to this country, it is true to say that Guernsey milk will always sell as a liquid, but if your farm is off the map and delivery is difficult you can always fall back on the manufacture of cream which has always had a ready sale, and of course leaves the skim milk for pig feeding, and the return of manure to the farm, which is good farming, much in need at the moment.
To sum up, the Guernsey is a beautiful clean-looking and docile cow that thrives well under most conditions, and it is only necessary to buy one to become an enthusiast and form a herd.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A GUERNSEY
The Points of a Cow points SizeCows, four years old or over, about 1,000 lb. weight 3 General Appearance(or type)Fine throughout, lean-fleshed and not fat, of hardy and symmetrica appearance, frame smoothly covered with muscle, body deep, wide through hindquarters, wedge-shaped whether viewed from in front, the side, or behind 6 Quality(general)Good carriage, fine clean bone 3 LegsFine, well apart, medium length, wide curve from flank to hock joint, hocks parallel and wide apart; legs free in motion with no tendency to sweep or turn 2 Quality(touch)Skin thin, mellow and loose to the touch, well and closely covered with fine hair 3 ColourA shade of fawn with or without white markings 2 HeadHead fine and long; lean face, broad between the eyes; eyes large with quiet gentle expression; muzzle broad, flesh coloured nose; horns fine and curved 5 NeckLong and thin, clean throat 3 ShouldersShoulders fine, backbone rising well between shoulder-blades; chine fine 3 ChestDeep and wide between and behind forelegs, girth full. Ribs long, deep and wide apart 7 BackLevel to tail-head; broad and level across loins and hips 3 HindquartersRump long, wide and level; hook bones wide apart. Thighs long and flat; tail fine, reaching to hocks, good switch 10 Udder(a) udder level and full in front (8); (b) udder full and well up behind (8); (c) udder of large size and capacity, elastic, silky and not fleshy (8); (d) teats well apart, squarely placed, and of good and even size (7) 31 Veins and WellsMilk veins prominent, long tortuous, with large and deep wells; escutcheon wide, with thigh ovals, and wide on thighs 9 SkinYellow in ear, at base of horns, on end of tail, on udder, teats and body generally, hoofs amber coloured 10 Total 100
For inspection a jet-black nose is disqualification. Judges will have power to penalize an animal showing an excessive amount of flesh, and in particular, heifers which have had a calf whose appearance suggests that they have been fed more highly than their age warrants in consideration of their future life as milking animals.
Dehorned animals will not be penalized.
The Points of a Bull points SizeBulls, four years or over, about 1,500 lb. weight 6 General Appearance(or type)Masculine throughout, frame well furnished with muscle characteristic of a male animal but not beefy; body deep, of good length, wide through hindquarters; vigorous and alert and symmetrical in appearance 10 Quality(general)Good carriage; fine clean bone 5 LegsFine, well apart, medium length, wide curve from flank to hock joints, hocks parallel and wide apart; legs free in motion with no tendency to sweep or turn 5 Quality(touch)Skin thin, mellow and loose to the touch, well and closely covered with fine hair 5 ColourA shade of fawn with or without white markings 5 HeadMasculine, but not coarse, clean-cut, lean face, broad between the eyes; bright eyes, quiet gentle expression and strong sinewy jaw; muzzle broad, flesh coloured nose; horns medium 8 NeckLong, with well-developed crest, clean throat 5 ShouldersPowerful, clean, fine at top, backbone rising well between shoulder-blades; chine fine 5 ChestDeep and wide between and behind forelegs, girth full. Ribs long, deep and wide apart 10 BackLevel to tail-head, broad and level across loins; broad between the hips 8 HindquartersRump long, wide and level; hook-bones wide apart; thighs long and flat, muscular but not beefy; tail fine, reaching to hocks, good switch 10 TeatsOf fair size, wide apart and squarely placed; Escutcheon; well developed 8 SkinYellow in ear, at base of horns, on end of tail, and body generally; hoofs amber coloured 10 Total 100
For inspection purposes a jet-black nose is a disqualification. Judges will have power to penalize any animal showing an excessive amount of flesh.
Dehorned animals will not be penalized.
by ROBERT HOBBS
Why do I keep Dairy Shorthorns? Is it because my father and grandfather kept them before me? Or from the fact that the Shorthorn is the breed of this country for which England has been famed for 150 years? They have held sway at my farm for over seventy years; but I could hardly feel justified in continuing to breed Shorthorns were I not fully convinced that they are the soundest cattle proposition for the future with farmers in this country. Dual-purpose cattle we must have if we are to get the fullest amount of beef and milk which we are capable of producing. Our future beef stores must come largely from our dairy herds, and no breed is more fitted to produce the quality of milk most suited for home consumption, and, at the same time give us suitable grazing stores.
Milk Surplus Coining
With modern knowledge of expert ley farming the grazing capacity of our land could be more than doubled. No country has the soil and climatic conditions more suitable for a vast production of beef and mutton throughout the summer were the stock forthcoming, and the storage for the meat available at the close of the grazing season. The Government demand for milk and more milk throughout the war years together with the abnormally high prices for milk and cereals have unbalanced our farming; and many farmers are relying too much for a living on their milk cheque, and on low-yielding cereal crops.
A surplus of milk for home consumption is already becoming evident, and the country cannot face the loss of manufacturing milk into cheese or milk powder at current prices.
Still the Best Dual-Purpose Cow
Docile and easily managed, no breed fits better into the general farm routine, or converts the home-grown food more economically into milk and beef than the Dairy Shorthorn.
When milk prices fall the man with the sound dual-purpose cow will best hold his own; and for this reason the milking Shorthorn should always predominate amongst the general run of British farmers. For, apart from her milk, she will feed readily into an evenly fleshed beef carcass. Her good natural coat enables her to winter out day and night on light soils, as will also her offspring if required.
Steers from Dairy Shorthorns are now seen in many Shorthorn herds, and they clearly demonstrate the good fleshing qualities of their dams.
How They Are Managed
Our herd at Kelmscott numbers 240 head, of which about 70 cows are in milk. They are run like an ordinary well-managed commercial herd, sharing the grazing and home-grown food with the other livestock on the 800 acre farm. Apart from the Shorthorns there is a flock of 200 half-bred ewes with their 380 odd lambs, 20 pedigree Wessex-Saddleback breeding sows with a large stock of breeding gilts and baconers, whilst 1,000 hens in folding units are continually on the grass leys.
The milking herd graze the three- to four-year leys, moving back to an old pasture after one or two hours on the ley, after milking morning and evening. Autumn sown winter oats or wheat often give three or four weeks' feed to the cows in early spring previous to going on to the grass leys.
An old pasture is available for occupation day and night throughout the winter. Maintenance food in the shape of silage, hay, oat straw, kale or mangold is fed in the fields after milking.
The young stock are wintered in covered yards, getting little beyond hay, straw, silage and mangolds. Dry, in-calf cows winter in the fields, as do the spring-calving heifers. Calves are taken off their dams at the fourth day, and are reared on the pail; but there are usually ten or twelve calves getting their milk twice daily from five or six off-going cows. Bull calves get a strictly limited milk ration, except possibly two or three individuals selected for the summer shows.
Reared in this manner, the young bulls are not forced for sale by auction, but are sold privately at home in good ordinary breeding condition. The large milking herd of 70 cows is in one unit, and is machine milked twice daily. Under such conditions good but not abnormal yields are expected. The last year's average yield as given by National Milk Record shows 55 cows to average 8,730 lb., 21 heifers average 7,527 lb. Kelmscott-Meoly 107th heads the County Shorthorn tests with a yield of 20,432 lb. in 305 days with 701 lb. of butter. This cow, although running with the main herd, was milked three times daily. No herd can boast of a longer or more successful showyard career. The first Royal Show Championship was won forty years ago in 1909. At the Royal in 1949 all three of the Group Challenge Cups were won by home-bred cattle from the Kelmscott herd. Careful line breeding permits the use of home-bred sires to a large extent. Of the eight sires now in service, five of them are home-bred.
The leading sire to-day is the twelve-year-old white Kelmscott Gay Baron 24th, an I.R.M. bull. At ten years old he was Champion at the Oxfordshire show. He is out of the Royal Champion cow Kelmscott Marjory 47. He was sired by Histon Gay Barrington whose dam Elkston Barrington Duchess was first at the Royal in 1936, being placed Reserve to Kelmscott Marjory 47 for the Female Championship.
Amongst Kelmscott Gay Baron 24th's most noted progeny are Kelmscott Pink 22nd, winner of first prize at the Royal and Supreme Champion at the Three Counties Show in 1947; Kelmscott Betty 53rd, Champion Royal Counties Show, 1949; Kelmscott Solo 169th, First at Royal Show, 1949; and First and Reserve Champion Bath and West Show, 1950; Kelmscott Gay Lord 40th, Champion at the Suffolk Show, 1949; and Kelmscott Pink 158th, First and Female Champion Shropshire and West Midland Show; and Female and Supreme Champion at Bath and West Show, 1950.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DAIRY SHORTHORN
Points of the Bull
Points of the Cow
* The recognised colour descriptions of Shorthorn cattle are as follows red, red and white, red and little white, roan, dark roan, red roan, light roan or white.
by JOAN COCHRANE
I was lucky to come in contact with Kerry cattle early in my farming days, or I might like so many other people have thought of them as a 'fancy' breed and not realized their great merit.
It is often pointed out that the Kerry is suitable for poor land where other cattle wouldn't thrive, and although this is true, and they will live and do well in poor, rough country, this doesn't mean that they won't do a lot better on good land. With proper feeding and management their yield compares very favourably with that of the other dairy breeds and yet the Kerry has a much smaller stomach capacity and needs far less bulk than the larger types and you can keep a greater head of stock on your acreage than any other breed except perhaps the Jersey and their fellow-countryman the Dexter. There has been a tendency to breed Kerries rather bigger in this country but I believe the economical size for a Kerry is no bigger than a Jersey, say about 750 lb. mature live weight. If we tried to force the Kerry I am sure she would give a staggering yield for her size, but there is no need for this; fed on one's own home-grown foods for every gallon over the first in winter and providing you have good grass in the summer, she will probably need no supplementary feeding to give a really good economic supply of excellent quality milk which, possessing a very small fat globule, is renowned for its digestibility.
Maybe she will only give four to five gallons daily at the height of her lactation, although many give more, but she will keep this up right through, and when the time comes to dry her off, she will probably still be giving about two gallons a day, having already given a really good yield with very little extra feeding. It is not unusual for a Kerry to have given over 1,000 gallons in a lactation period of from anything between 305 to 365 days, without ever having exceeded four and a half gallons per day. There will be no need to sell off or kill off your cow after a few lactations; she will go on for many years calving regularly, and even improving in the quantity of milk as she gets older. One of my cows gave 1,000 gallons last year for the first time with her ninth calf. I feel there should be a place for the Kerry on the Exmoor hill farms and on much other marginal land; surely the type of country and climate is very similar to that of their native Co. Kerry? It may not be dairying country, but this hardy little cow is well able to stand up to the rigorous conditions and give a very useful supply of milk, or rear healthy calves.
Though I agree that organic methods of management are the ideal from the point of view of the health of the animals, it is often difficult on the small farm to practise them always economically. Nevertheless I do try to rear my calves as naturally as possible, and whenever we have cows which we can spare as foster mothers we find this way better for the calf and more economical of labour.
1-1/4 Acres per Head
You can imagine that on my 85 acres of land it is not possible to be self-supporting in feeding stuffs for 60 head of cattle. But rations do not enable us to overfeed on purchased cakes, with so many mouths to share them. So that the whole of the farm is devoted to growing food for the Kerries, and I am at the moment wondering whether I should cut down the milking herd and be self-sufficient in food, or maintain my present herd of stock and continue to buy some of it. Self-sufficiency is obviously the safe insurance and the best policy from a long term point of view. There is no doubt that by growing my own food entirely I shall be assuring the future health of my herd, but the demand for Kerries is so great that one is encouraged to rear as many cattle as possible to maturity and lay good health foundations by doing them well as calves.
Thirty acres of the farm are arable at the moment and the rest is permanent grass, some of it almost useless in its present condition. But when I can get this old grass broken and reseeded to good mixtures my supply of home-grown food should be nearly doubled. Nothing demonstrated the value of leys more than the drought of 1949. But it has also demonstrated how well these little Kerry cattle thrive on bare pastures. Although the pastures are old there is no rough herbage wasted. Traditionally they have been accustomed to rough coarse pastures with little growth to wrap their tongues around. These are the conditions of the native heath of the Kerry in Ireland.
Milkers and Prizewinners
But brought on to only moderate pastures and with the limited food of the rationing system, the Kerry will milk as well as most breeds, with less trouble and at far less cost per gallon of milk. Some of my own Kerries have demonstrated what can be done with this breed by careful selective breeding, a practice which is only recent in the breed and then only carried on by a small number of enthusiasts. Coolock Blackie won the milking trials at the Royal Show in 1948 and gave over 11,000 gallons at 4.9 per cent butterfat. My present stock bull, Coolock Lord Nelson is out of a thousand-gallon dam and is grandson of Buckland June who holds the breed record at nearly 19,000 lb. of milk in a lactation. But what we really like, and what can be done under reasonable commercial conditions, is to have a herd of cows like my Bogardus Freesia who at twelve years old is still producing her steady 800900 gallons each lactation. Recent successes in the show ring with my home-bred cattle include Barbacklow April who was a first prize heifer at the Dairy Show, and Barbacklow April who was first prize heifer at this year's Royal Show. Coolock Lord Nelson was second at the Royal Show, beaten only by that great show bull, Hookland Judge, who had three Royal Show wins to his credit.
The cow illustrated is Drumgauonagh Black Meg, a grand type of Kerry that won second prize at the Royal Show, 1947. She is nine years old and has had seven calves. Her first heifer (one of four in the herd) has given 7,197-1/4 lb., 4.18 per cent butterfat, in 361 days with her first calf. Black Meg's own best record is 10,364-3/4 lb. in 360 days, fourth calf.
To quote the Kerry Society's official brochure: 'Nature's treatment has resulted in establishing a breed of cattle of unbeaten foraging capacity, and of iron constitution; a breed in which minor ailments are practically unknown and in which it is rare to meet one affected with tubercular troubles. The Kerry has been called "The Poor Man's Cow", and this she undoubtedly is, but she is the rich man's cow as well. The rich man tried her on account of her attractive appearance, and found that not only was her milk of the highest quality but that she could produce it economically, and was in fact a paying proposition. . . . The Kerry cow is in fact a profitable investment, as well as an ornament in every climate, on every class of soil, both for the large farmer, and the smallholder.'
How to Start
What is the best way to get started in Kerries? Well, your first step will be to find out what a good Kerry should look like. This is not a common breed and you may easily go wrong buying without previous knowledge of the breed. Read the points set out overleaf. Visit a number of herds whose names and addresses you can get from the Secretary of the Kerry Society, R. O. Hubl, Stanmore Hill, Middlesex. Go to any sale that may be held, but have an expert with you if possible. You could get a good view of the breed and an idea of prices at the Annual Show and Sale of Kerries held in Reading Cattle Market.
39. The Kerry bull
40. The Kerry cow
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A KERRY
The cow should be long, level and deep; her colour black but a small amount of white on the udder and underline is permissible; her head long, clean cut and fine; her horns fine, mottled or white tipped with black, upright and cocked; her bone fine; her coat should be glossy and skin pliable; her udder should be soft and large but not fleshy, protruding well under the belly, the teats being placed square and well apart, the milk veins prominent and large; the tail should be long and well put on, a few white hairs are permissible in the tassel but the flag should not have a white appearance. The Kerry cow should not weigh over 1,000 lb. when in breeding condition.
The bull should be black but a very small amount of white is permissible on or near the organs of generation; should have a long, clean-cut head, wide between the eyes; of masculine character, throat clean; horns medium length, mottled or white with black tips; withers fine, back level from withers to setting on of tail, which should be long, fine, tipped with black hairs, a few white hairs being permissible in the tassel but the flag should not have a white appearance. The Kerry Bull should not weigh over 1,250 lb. when in breeding condition.
Scale of Points
Kerry Cow points General formation and character Head, horns, and hair 30 UdderSize, shape, situation of teats, milk veins and escutcheon, etc. 40 Quality of touch 10 Colour 20 Total 100 Kerry Bull points General formation and character 25 Head, horns, and hair 25 Quality and touch 20 Colour 30 Total 100
by B. J. HONEYSETT
In dealing with this subject, one feels that a few general remarks are essential. First of all, in a country such as ours with a climate and landscape varying from the sheltered and almost sub-tropical spots to be found in one or two parts of south Cornwall to the wild hill country of northern Scotland and again, from the high rainfall, low-lying lands of parts of the west to the dry, light soils of some of our eastern counties there is undoubtedly a place for each of our breeds of cattle.
To my mind, many farmers do not give enough consideration to the type of farm which they have, or are contemplating farming before choosing the breed of cattle they intend to keep, this is very important as although I know of a herd of British Friesians being kept on Dartmoor and others on high marginal land in Scotland, the land on which they are most at home, is the lush pasture of our low lands, whereas the reverse is probably true of some of our smaller dairy breeds.
41. The British Friesian bull
42. The British Friesian cow
The next point 1 would like to stress is that what is perhaps more important than the breed are the strains within the breed, as we all know that there are nearly as wide a difference in performance and type within a breed as there are between certain breeds.
Founding the Herd
When my brother and I took over the management of the dairy herd on this farm for our father in 1940, we decided that in place of the 'commercial Shorthorn type' cattle, we would found a pedigree nerd, which would, we hoped, in time, build up to a carefully and closely bred herd of cattle from which bulls could go into other herds and stamp their progeny, as only the closely bred sires really will, but we had to decide first on a breed, and the one we finally chose after studying the main dairy breeds was the British Friesian, a choice which we have never regretted. Our main considerations were these: first of all, our farm of about two hundred acres was only from 50 ft. to 75 ft. above sea-level and also comprised about thirty acres in the Pevensey Marsh, which was valuable grazing land, on which we always run our heifers during the summer months (usually from March until the end of September). We were also anxious to bring our land into a high state of fertility and felt a large breed would suit our purpose best. Secondly, there was the future to consider, with two possibilities (quite likely probabilities) which seemed to stand out, one was that there was little doubt that the standard of living in this country was going to fall, and that in every country where that has already happened always the first food to have to forgo is meat, produced by the pure beef cattle, the supply having to be met as a byproduct of the dairy herds, thus we felt that the British Friesian looked more like becoming the national dairy breed than any other, and I think the figures during the last few years have largely borne this out. The other possibility which we could not afford to overlook was that the day might come when milk would be paid for on a quality basis (some may say why then choose British Friesians), now don't forget what I wrote about the strains within the breeds, also that in the countries where milk is already paid for on a quality basis, Friesian cattle have held their own. In Holland there is of course hardly any other breed although milk has long been sold on the quality basis, the same applies to north-west Germany, and when we look at the U.S.A., we find the two leading breeds are still Friesians and Jerseys, perhaps New Zealand is an exception, where the Jersey breed is most favoured, but I think that is due to the climate and the fact that there have been good stocks of the breed in that country for many years.
We thus felt that in the British Friesian cow we had a good-sized animal capable of giving a large quantity of useful quality milk on a diet of largely home-produced bulky foods, one that could remain at pasture for a great part of the year, and whose bull calves would make useful beef if unwanted for breeding stock.
Having decided on our breed, the next question was the purchase of foundation stock, capital being strictly limited, it was not possible just to go to one of the leading herds and select what we fancied! However, we determined to find a bunch of females bred on similar lines, if possible by the same sire. After a number of unsuccessful enquiries we at last found a breeder (Mr. H. K. Keeling) who had been carefully building a herd for nearly thirty years, he had not purchased a female for twenty years and only used about six bulls during that time, in addition he had always given his cattle personal supervision, and full records had been kept. Although no attempt at close breeding had been practised, considerable care in choosing the herd sires had been exercised, the blood of the great Dutch bull Ceres had been freely used in the early days and further strengthened through a grandson of the celebrated Terling Marthus, R.M., later two introductions of the 1936 imported blood had been introduced through Warden Dutchman, R.M., and Royal Hiltkees 5th, the senior herd sire when the herd was dispersed, and already sire of over 200 daughters.
In connection with our purchase of foundation stock I would point out that this is one of the ways in which the various Breeders' Clubs and Associations can be of such value, as it was through the South Eastern British Friesian Breeders' Club that we first met our now esteemed friend Mr. Keeling. We eventually purchased eleven cows, all daughters of Egham Romulus R.M.P., R.M., a grandson of Terling Marthus, R.M., out of the twice 2,000 gallon R.M. cow, Egham Rue, whom Mr. Keeling had used in the herd for eight years, most of these cows were out of dams that were again half-sisters, thus we had a good beginning, as they were all pleasing animals, with good vessels, and having deep bodies on nice short legs, an additional advantage was that the cattle had never been forced in any way, mostly living on home-produced foods and always having an adequate supply of green stuff. These cows actually averaged over 1,600 gallons each with their first lactations on this farm, with seven already having qualified for their R.M., and three more that look like doing it during their present lactations. They have to date averaged over thirty tons of milk each and we hope that in time they will all obtain their R.M.L. (50 tons).
After two or three years, Mr. Keeling decided to retire, and thus arose the opportunity to purchase the daughters of our cows which were bred in his herd before we purchased them. So last summer, we sold twenty-seven of our own heifers, some commercial and some pedigree, but none of the Tunley cows, to make room (and raise funds!) for these daughters. I must mention here that we were not interested in the daughters of Warden Dutchman R.M. only Royal Hiltkee 5th, as we did not consider Dutchman's daughters to have the right temperament (a very important feature in dairy cattle). Thus we purchased nine daughters by Royal Hiltkees 5th and two of his grand-daughters (these being by Tunley Hiltkees, our present senior stock bull) and mostly out of our own cows, an exception being the purchase of a daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter of a really good cow, Tunley Dairy Maid, two of them being full sisters to Tunley Hiltkees. Seven of these heifers have so far averaged 8,000 lb. at 3.98 per cent butterfat in 230 days (all incomplete lactations) and still having an average daily output of 29 lb. and one second calver which has given 11,000 lb. at 4.2 per cent butterfat still giving 25 lb. daily. Thus we already have three generations of some families and about thirty years' breeding.
To come to the stock bulls and breeding policy, we first purchased a bull with good milk and fat records but of no particular line of blood to use on the entire cross-bred herd; we kept this bull until he was eight years old and he sired some heavy milking cows. As soon as we had some pedigree cows we decided that our breeding policy should be to try to blend the blood of Terling Marthus with what we considered the best all-round bull of the 1936 importation, i.e. Royal Hiltkees R.M. (who already has twenty-five R.M. sons and fifty-seven R.M. daughters) thus trying to retain the great milking ability of the Marthus line and strengthening the butterfat through Royal Hiltkees. With this in mind, we purchased two bull calves out of heifers sold at the Terling and Lavenham Sale of 1947, one carrying eight and the other six crosses of Terling Marthus, and one of Royal Hiltkees; these two bulls were used on half the herd each for two years, since when they have been largely rested until we have some of their daughters milking, which will be in the autumn when it is proposed to retain the best one for further use. Mr. Keeling had saved a son of Royal Hiltkees 5th, namely Tunley Hiltkees, out of one of his best families, the Petunias, and he promised us that when he had finished with him we should have the first offer, so after serving the heifers which were included in the sale he came to us, thus we have in him a continuation of the blood of the same two bulls, his dam being a great-grand-daughter of Terling Marthus and himself a grandson of Royal Hiltkees. We purchased the two full sisters to this bull in the sale for six hundred guineas, many considering them to be two of the best animals in the herdthe eldest had tested at 4.30 per cent butterfat with her first calf, and will be about 4.20 per cent butterfat with her second. The other one has not yet completed her first lactation but will give over 1,200 gallons at about 4 per cent butterfat. The dam of this family is in the herd, Tunley Petunia 20th R.M.P., R.M., and gave almost 2,000 gallons on three-quarters last lactation (having lost one before we had her). She already has three R.M. yields, is a grand type of cow and her dam gave over 42 tons of milk at nearly 4 per cent butterfat. We thus feel that this bull should leave some really good cattlehe has been used on ten of his dam's half-sisters, his two full sisters, five of his own half-sisters and two daughters, and the progeny from these matings look promising to date. We hope later to use him on the daughters of the other two bulls and vice versa, following with one of his sons out of his dam's half-sister, Tunley Edith 11th, a good cow who has already given three lactations of over 4 per cent butterfat and whose dam, now in calf with her fifteenth, and a wonderful wearing cow who already has four R.M. daughters and two more which look like becoming R.M.s in their present lactations. Therefore, we hope our future policy is already planned without having to go outside for new blood for some years.
Although the herd has not been going many years the herd average for the last three years has been over 1,300 gallons and led the East Sussex Branch N.M.R., for herd average and with the highest yielding cow. In 1950 the herd was placed third in the Royal Counties Show Dairy Herds Competition, open to all breeds in the County of Sussex, and at the last butterfat test, the entire herd averaged 4.09 per cent; this, when the cows were on grass at the end of April. Bulls have been sold privately and at Reading for up to 380 guineas. Little showing has so far been done but when animals have gone out they have usually brought home cards with them. My own opinion of showing is that it is the shop window for the breeds and gives pleasure to those who like to see nice cattle, but has nothing to do with constructive breeding which can only be done in the office and on the farm.
As mentioned earlier when starting the herd we were anxious to build up the farm to a high state of fertility as well as the cattle, it had, like many others, for various reasons been somewhat neglected during the period between the two wars. We have always considered the humus content of the soil to be very important, and made all the dung we possibly could, buying straw, as well as what we could grow on the farm. Another practice which we consider good is to keep the mower going over the pastures during the grazing season, thus keeping the grass young and allowing any 'heads' or coarse growth to be quickly returned as organic plant food to the soil in one of its most useful forms. On the question of spreading the droppings, we still have an open mind; there appear to be two schools of thought, one feeling that to spread is about one of the dirtiest habits on the farm, as the animals should be allowed to graze round them, going closer as the effect of the droppings dies away, whereas others take the line that unless you spread, a large amount of herbage is wasted and that any eggs, etc., are quickly destroyed by the sun. We are this year carefully spreading certain fields as the herd is taken out and watching results. Undoubtedly alternate grazing and cutting for silage is an excellent plan, so giving the field a rest and making full use of the extra fertility left by the animals.
The farm is mostly down to temporary grass, except a small acreage of good brookland pasture. We have tried a number of grass mixtures and have for the last few years been growing one consisting of Cocksfoot, Meadow Fescue, Tall Fescue, Meadow Foxtail grasses, with the addition of late-flowering Red Clover, Alsike, Chicory and Yarrow, we do not sow any White Clover, as we find on our soils this comes in on its own, so why spend money on seed? Ryegrass we dislike, as in our part of the country it is never there when you want it, the only time it seems to make any growth is early spring and late autumn, and as soon as it makes any stem, we have noticed the cattle dislike it, it is also a shallow-rooting plant, and a very poor humus builder. One plant which we have the greatest regard for is chicory; of all the herbs this to my mind seems to be the most valuable; from the cattle angle, it is very palatable, low in fibre, high in carbohydrates and being so deep-rooting it is drought-resisting and rich in minerals. We always sow 4 lb. per acre with all mixtures including lucerne, as we consider it an ideal companion for lucerne, helping to balance up the protein, it is also a great soil drainer, to the benefit of the future crops. I have often found its large tap root going down for three feet. We are this year putting down a small acreage of the Goosegreen mixture (minus the ryegrass) and shall be able to report later. I think that if farmers generally spent more time watching their cattle graze, particularly on natural herbage (growing on uncultivated ground) they would have a better understanding of what the cattle are likely to select, and what might with benefit be included in their wonderful looking straight leys!
About forty acres of dredge corn are grown for the dairy herd, pigs, and poultry, mostly sown in autumn and comprising oats, beans and a small percentage of wheat; this forms the main concentrate food during the winter, in addition a few acres of kale are grown and about six acres of market garden crops, the residue of which are also fed, such as the brussels sprouts plants after the best buttons have been sold, we also try to get as many catch crops as possible such as rape, turnips, and Italian ryegrass so as to maintain a supply of greenstuff almost throughout the year.
Milking is by machine. Regarding times of milking, we have tried doing it at the normal farm spacing, three times, and at twelve-hour intervals, and are satisfied that the last mentioned has most to recommend it, the thrice milking may be a little better for the udder in the case of a high-yielding cow, but against this you have the loss of rest, which is even more important, as unless the milking animals get proper rest periods they cannot utilize their food to the best advantage, it having been proved in the U.S.A. that when at grass, only about eight hours out of the twenty-four are spent collecting food, almost all the remainder being rest periods, unless disturbed; I think too that the butterfat will be found more consistent on the twelve-hours system. Two other points which we pay particular attention to during the winter months, when the cows are housed at night and during the day in very bad weather (although we always have them out for exercise each day) are daily grooming and clean mangers, the grooming is done thoroughly with a straight comb and a dandy brush and the mangers are washed out once a day and brushed out before each feed of concentrates.
The bulls are housed in comfortable pens with a four-foot return wall from the entrance, thus forming a warm corner which is kept strawed down. The exercise yards have tubular surrounds and are so placed that the bulls can see the cows come in and out for milkingan important point. Our senior stock bull is tethered out in the daytime most of the year, this is, of course, ideal, where they have the right temperament, but as any stockman will know this is not always the case. The bulls are also kept groomed and given an occasional bath, which they seem to enjoy.
Up to the present the calves have been reared on the bucket, getting one gallon per day for the first three months, then gradually reducing it until they are weaned at 4-1/2 months, it is hoped later that when a cow obtains her R.M.L. (50 tons) that she will then be used for calf rearing, thus ensuring that she lives a natural life for the remainder of her days, and that if she breeds one good calf a year, she will still be a valuable asset to the herd.
As the farm is now being run entirely on the organic system, and no chemical fertilizers will in future be used, it is hoped that a continued improvement in health, production and hardiness will result, but a few years must pass before the full story can be told and seen.
In conclusion, I must say that this article has been written in odd moments during a very busy time so that full justice may not have been done to the subject but those who read it can be assured that it comes from the pen of one who is constantly in touch with his cattle and land. I am sure that whatever the breed the reader keeps or favours he will agree that as an enjoyable close to a busy day in this unsettled world there is no better sight than to watch a really good herd of British Friesians grazing a good pasture in the setting sun. One could almost imagine that the great Sir Walter Scott was thinking of such a scene, when he wrote the line,
Shines Ebony and Ivory.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THE FRIESIAN
HeadFairly large and distinctly masculine, broad near the horns, and tapering without undue length to nose, without Roman nose, the whole head being clean cut and without dewlap. The head should be carried high, to denote stylishness. The ears should be fairly large, thick, well set on, and carried evenly. The muzzle should be broad, with prominent nostrils.
EyesLarge, bold, alert and set wide apart.
HornsThe horns should grow straight from the head, not too long, and turn inward and forward evenly, but not upward. They should not be coarse, but should be thick and white at the base, and gradually taper to a darker point.
NeckModerately long, thick, straight and deep, well let into the shoulders.
ShouldersThe shoulders should be strong, well laid in and broad at the points.
BodyDeep, with strong loin and well-sprung ribs, showing a good barrel with straight and parallel top and bottom outlines, freedom from hollows (particularly behind the shoulders) and with loose skin.
QuartersLong and straight on top, hips level but not unduly wider than the pin bones, thighs wide and well let down, well fleshed outside down to the hocks. The buttocks should be wide and flat, without patches at the side of the tail-head.
TailThe tail, the end of which must be white, should be set on level, in a line with the back, should not be coarse and should be carried in a perpendicular line to a point just behind and below the hocks.
LegsThe legs should be strong, straight and short, have nice but not too heavy bone, with good joints and feet, and should be placed well outside each corner of the body. The hocks should be clean, flat and broad.
ColoursBlack and white are the only colours permissible. All four legs and the lower part of the tail should be white. The black-and-white markings should not be mottled or intermingled, and, except under special circumstances, a bull with a black hair spot on the foot or such spots on the feet is not eligible to have its entry registered.
HeadClean cut, distinctly feminine, and alert, wide at the horn, thin ears. The muzzle should be wide, and the whole head should not be too long.
EyesClear, set wide apart, with gentle expression denoting docility.
HornsThe horns should grow straight from the head, should not be too long, and should turn inwards and forward evenly, but not upward. They should not be coarse, and should taper to a darker point.
NeckFairly long, straight and deep, and well laid into the shoulders.
ShouldersThe shoulders should be fairly strong, rather lean and well placed, broad at the points, and tapering to the withers.
BodyDeep, with strong and well-sprung ribs, showing a good barrel with straight and parallel top and bottom lines. Hollows (particularly behind the shoulders and front legs) should be avoided. The skin should be soft and pliable.
QuartersLong, level and straight on top, with level hips and wide pelvic bones, and with good, deep thighs. The buttocks should be wide and flat, without patches at the side of the tail-head.
UdderThe udder should be capacious, thin and soft to the touch, showing prominently the milk veins, which should extend well forward under the body. The udder should be carried evenly and should extend well forward and come straight down behind, being well attached to the thighs. The twist should be wide and the teats of medium size, well and evenly placed underneath each corner of the udder.
TailThe tail, the end of which must be white, should be set in level, in a line with the back, rather fine, and carried perpendicularly to a point just below and behind the hocks.
LegsThe legs should be strong, straight and short, having good but fine bone with good joints and feet, and placed well outside each corner of the body. The hocks should be clean, flat and broad.
ColoursBlack and white are only colours permissible. All four legs and the lower part of the tail should be white. The black-and-white markings should not be mottled or intermingled.
by LADY LODER
In 1908 I started Dexters by buying a dozen heifers from the late Duchess of Devonshire to stock a little 60-acre farm of very poor land. As I had to provide butter for the big house I found the Dexter the most suitable animal for this as being so hardy all they needed was an open shed in which to be milked, and they laid out all the year round, and the calves were reared in an open yard with a shelter roof at one end of it.
Butterfats were so good that in the summer we make 1 lb. of butter to every two gallons of milk, and I also won butter prizes competing against Jerseys.
I found I could keep five Dexters with the food required for three Jerseys, and when the artificial feeding problem became so difficult during the war, I gave up my Jersey herd, which I had kept on another farm for twelve years, and increased my Dexter herd as they were the most profitable animals on my poor land.
Dexters live to a great age and continue breeding well and still look quite fresh. Grinstead Dora 6th, the cow I took out to the Shows in 1949 and which won first and Champion at the Bath and West, Three Counties, Royal, Royal Counties and Sussex County shows, was ten years old and had had seven calves. Her average milk yield is 6,269 lb. with 4.06 per cent butterfat.
In the National Milk Records for last year, Mr. Spencer's herd of Dexters in Kent, on better grassland, averaged 6,201 lb. for his cows, and 4,978 lb. for his heifers. Mrs. Wells, with Ickwell Amaryllis, had the highest yield for a single Dexter9,629 lb. in 286 days with 4.79 per cent butterfat. My own Grinstead Trixie 9th had the best yield for three successive lactations:
6,099 lb. with 4.63 per cent butterfat in 305 days with 3rd calf 6,315 lb. with 5.36 per cent butterfat in 305 days with 4th calf 6,912 lb. with 4.89 per cent butterfat in 305 days with 5th calf
A Dexter will yield between 500 and 600 gallons of milk without special feeding, but the following yields have been officially recorded, which by no means include all the yields.
Age in Yield in No. of Name of Cow Years pounds days Hookstile Titania 3324 10 12,747 365 Ashtonhayes Patricia 4166 5 12,122 365 Starlight of Grinstead 3511 9 11,505 365 Thorpe Dora 4337 7 11,341 364 Braxted Wendy 4286 7 11,136 365 Brokenhurst Penelope 3rd 3076 11 10,966 323 Grinstead Nightingale 3rd 3636 10 10,269 330 Ashtonhayes Portumna 4471 4 9,655 365 Grinstead Trixie 2nd 3977 4 9,592 362 Grinstead Hawk 5th 4108 6 9,518 351 Colomendy Marion 4188 7 9,477 354 Braxted Busy Bee 3928 7 9,441 342 Grinstead Dollie 2nd 4199 7 8,779 354 Nuthurst Hawk 3rd 3338 10 8,666 304 Beenham Dors 4632 6 7,763 329 Grinstead Lavender 6th 4597 4 7,114 314
Grinstead Taxus produced 433 lb. of butterfat in a year's lactation, representing an amount equal to her weight.
Dexter cattle were originally natives of the south and south-western districts of Ireland, where they have been bred by smallholders for some considerable time. They are a mountain breed and have roamed about the shelterless hillsides in an almost wild state of nature. The name 'Dexter' may have arisen from a gentleman of that name who was agent to Lord Hawarden and who conceived the idea of producing a little cow, suitable for both milking and fattening within the limits of his own farm on Valentia Island.
Dexters were first introduced into England in 1882, and shown at the Royal Show in Norwich in 1886. The English Dexter Herd Book was founded in 1900.
The Dexter is the smallest British breed, the cow averaging 650 lb. in weight, their smallness being accentuated by the shortness of their legs, between knee and fetlock.
Being a mountain breed they are extremely hardy and can with advantage be kept out of doors all the year round, even in the severest climates encountered in this country. This is particularly true on land likely to poach with heavier cattle, as due to their lighter weight, they can negotiate the worst gateways throughout the winter without undue troubles.
They are omnivorous in their grazing; they are capable of thriving on the closest grazed pasture where normally only sheep could make a living, whilst they will continually pick over coarse roughage, tackling such weeds as thistles and nettles, reducing the whole to an even cropped pasture. They are therefore ideal animals to keep where horses are kept extensively.
Considering their small size they are excellent milk yielders. The milk is of good quality, having a high butterfat content. What is more, the fats are in small globule form, while the curd is 'soft', so that the milk is readily digested, making it pre-eminently suitable for children.
They are essentially dual purpose; steers develop rapidly, and are marketable between their second and third year. The flesh is thick, with the right amount of fat, whilst the joints are small, which meets the butchers' requirements.
They are regular breeders and reach maturity early, the first calf being produced at two years old. In spite of this, they live to a good age, eight calvings being the average, whilst fourteen offspring are not unknown. This low wastage in Dexter herds is of very great value.
They are extremely healthy, easily kept free from tuberculosis; and mastitis in its many forms is hardly known in a Dexter herd.
The maintenance ration of any animal varies according to its body weight. One accepted formula gives the relationship as two-thirds weight, from which it can be calculated that a 650-lb. Dexter takes roughly six-tenths of the food of a more normal animal of 1,300 lb. live weight. It therefore follows that ten Dexters can be maintained on the same area that supported, say, six animals of the larger breeds.
Over and above this maintenance figure, the ration required for milk can be taken as directly proportional; hence for equal milking efficiency the same ratio of ten to six holds good.
The result of being able to run more cows on a given acreage means that there are more frequent calvings, which by judicious management makes for a more level milk supply. Moreover, should a casualty occur in the herd, neither the loss in milk supply, nor capital value is so great.
For small farms a self-contained herd can be better justified; not only does the bull cost less to maintain, but the number of cows for which it is kept can be increased.
Dexters are capable of converting roughage into useful food. Yields of up to two gallons a day can be maintained on hay alone; cake requirements are less, 3 lb. per gallon of milk above the first gallon being ample. For fattening also, very little cake is necessary if the animals have their fill of forage material.
Calves are easy and cheap to rear; six pints of milk per day is ample for their needs, and for the first three months only. They start to chew at a very early age, and good hay should be available from their third day.
A rough guide to milking efficiency is that a 650-lb. liveweight cow giving 500 gallons in a year is 25 per cent efficient, whilst a similar cow giving 650 gallons would be 35 per cent efficient. By comparison a 1,300-lb. cow, would be required to give 800 and 1,150 gallons respectively for similar efficiencies.
The appetite of a normal Dexter is 20 to 25 lb. of average hay per day.
Dexters have always been represented at the Smithfield Club Show of prize beef cattle, both in pure bred Dexter class of animals under three years old, and of small cross-bred cattle of under two years old, and in the pure-bred class animals average 6¾ cwt. have always fetched prices well above the average.
Good for Crossing
Dexters stamp their good qualities on any offspring, so that Dexter crosses also have good commercial value. This is particularly the case of using a Dexter bull in a beef herd where small early maturing animals are the result.
They have been exported to many parts of the world, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Palestine, South Africa, and the United States, where in every case they have adapted themselves to the climate, and given satisfaction.
How to Make a Start
If you are interested to make a start in the Dexter breed you would find it is well to discuss the pros and cons with an established breeder, but first of all why not have a look at the breed at an agricultural show. Dexter cattle are exhibited at most of the larger Agricultural Shows, and pedigree Dexter herds are to be found in most milk-producing counties of England and Wales, the owners of which are usually very pleased to show their herds. Names of Dexter Breeders can be obtained from the Secretary of the Dexter Cattle Society, 12 Station Road, Reading.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A DEXTER
Dexter bulls at three years old and over, should not exceed 900 lb. live weight, when in breeding condition, and younger bulls should weigh less in proportion.
Dexter cows should not exceed 800 lb. live weight, when in breeding condition.
Scale of Points
Dexter Bulls points General formation and character 25 Head, horns, and hair 25 Quality and touch 20 Colour* 30 -- 100
* White underneath forelegs and on brisket disqualify an animal.
43. The Dexter bull
44. The Dexter cow
Dexter Cows points Head, neck and horns 15 Body, top-line, under-line, ribs, setting on of tail, shortness of legs, etc. 25 Bag 40 Quality and touch 10 Colour* 10 -- 100
* White underneath forelegs and on brisket disqualify an animal.
P. T. JOYCE, DORSET
It is now almost twenty years since I had to make up my mind which breed I should keep. It was at a time when the price of all agricultural produce was low and the margin of profit very small. A mistake almost certainly meant ruin. It was just about that time that the figures for the wastage of dairy cattle were first published, showing that an average cow lived in a herd, doing its job, for only two and a half years.
Bad times make good farmers, and every farmer has to use his own ingenuity. Mr. Hosier had set an example for those who lived on poor lands by treating cattle roughly and putting them through milking parlours instead of tying them up in a stall. It seemed to me then, and it has occurred to many others since, that cattle treated in this way must be hornless; and that cattle working for only two and a half years must make a useful carcass when they are killed. They must be cheap to rear and replace; they must give enough milk to make it worth while for two men to milk seventy. The herds which were making money for Mr. Hosier were averaging about 500 gallons of milk.
I did not start farming on the Hosier system, as I wished to give personal attention to the individual cattle which I started with. I purchased half my herd in the local market and half in the pedigree Red Poll market. I calved them down and milked them by hand in the traditional manner and found that the Red Polls averaged just over 800 gallons, rather better in fact than the Shorthorns. This left me no longer in doubt, although it was clear that I should have considerable difficulty in palming off useless animals, as 1 discovered them, by putting them into the local market. Red Polls were little appreciated in the west.
Since the revival of the beef industry, the dual purpose character of Red Poll cattle has been a very useful asset. I now rear every male and female on the cows which would otherwise have been discarded for the various reasons clearly set out by the statisticians twenty years ago. I have plenty of good cattle coming forward for beef which will fatten without concentrated food, and I am now in the position of having surplus breeding stock for sale.
After breeding dual-purpose cattle for twenty years, I realize that to have two objects in view is not so easy as having only one. But there are really many more than two objects. There is the animal's point of view, which is often ignored. Races of animals which have found environment uncongenial have died out, it seems, because they did not really wish to live in the new environment. We cannot ask a cow whether she prefers giving a very large quantity of milk, or whether she likes to get nice and fat once a year. We can only tell by the figures of longevity and breeding.
by M. L. CULL, SOUTH WALES
In 1945 we took over three farms, all nearly derelict, the soil worn-out, the buildings inconvenient and dilapidated. Adequate stock was the first need and we were determined from the beginning that there should be a nucleus of pedigree stock on which we could build, until the farms had nothing except pedigree animals.
45. The Red Poll bull
46. The Red Poll cow
Milk for Cash and No Waste Calves
We therefore had to decide what kind of pedigree cattle we wanted and there were several factors to influence our choice. Firstly, it seemed essential that it should be a dairy herd as we needed a steady money return, no matter how small, to start coming in as quickly as possible. But, in view of the meat shortage, it seemed wasteful and uneconomic to keep a breed of cattle whose bull calves would be a sheer loss. Therefore it was necessary that it should be a dual-purpose breed.
There are not very many dual-purpose breeds from which to choose and everything seemed to point to Red Polls. Hardiness was important as all the farms are fairly high and very exposed. Also, at first there was very little accommodation for the cattleand Red Polls are undoubtedly hardy.
Secondly we had decided that we wished to house our cattle in half-covered yards and for this the polled characteristic of the Red Polls was invaluable. Lastly there were already two or three herds in the district from which to obtain the nucleus of our breeding stock.
Improving the 'Cross-Breds'
So we bought a small bunch of in-calf heifers and later added some older cows and from these have built up a steadily increasing herd. We have never regretted our choice; the Red Polls completely satisfy us. So much so that we have started to use a Red Poll bull on our cross-bred beef cows, confident that while we are improving their milking quality we are in no way spoiling their capacity for beef. The Red Poll milks well; from 800 to 1,000 gallons are usual for a mature cow while records up to 2,000 are not unknown. Their butterfat is good, though, of course, it cannot compare with the Channel Island breeds. We have as yet no personal experience of their beefing capabilities but the records of many herds, all over the country, prove that it is quite usual to rear bullocks that will grade as A + or Super Special out of 1,000-gallon dams. The Red Poll is slow maturing but is very long lived, keeping up her milk production to the end. She is also an extremely healthy animal.
We are in no position to talk of our 'methods of animal husbandry', for we have not had the herd sufficiently long to have evolved any methods particularly our own. All we do is to attempt to do our best for our animals and adapt to our own conditions the accepted methods of herd management.
Thus the calf is left to suckle the cow for the first four days of its life and is then bucket fed on whole milk. All the calves are given sufficient whole milk to ensure a really good start, but the bull calves destined to be reared as steers are transferred to a gruel after some weeks. This is done in order to economize milk and is not perhaps an ideal practice, but the steers seem to do very well despite it. From about nine months old, until they calve down, the heifers are out all the time. They are served at approximately two years and thus calve just before three years old.
The cows are hand milked and are fed as far as possible on home-grown foods. The bulk foods are hay, oat straw and silage made from oats and vetches, lucerne or whatever else we can muster. Marrow stem kale is grown for feed in the autumn and early winter and a small amount of mangolds also which are used as a reserve. The concentrates consist to a great extent of oatmeal and linseed meal. The linseed is always home-grown and is ground in a hammer mill on the farm, thus the oil is also fed.
The new leys which are now beginning to supply the greater part of the grazing are based on the Clifton Park mixtures and adapted to our soil and needs. For example, we cut down to a minimum the amount of yarrow in the mixtures, for yarrow occurs naturally in our pastures. The same thing is done with chicory, for this grows so vigorously here that it tends to crowd out some of the other plants. Also on one of the farms perennial ryegrass does not do very well, for it suffers very badly during dry spells and there cocksfoot is made the basis of the leys instead.
No attempts are made to force milk yields or growth. The cows are milked twice a day, and are fed before calving merely to ensure adequate nutriment for both cow and calf. We do not approve of pre-milking as a rule but practise it if the cow is badly congested and is obviously in discomfort. We keep natural methods as our ideal, and have had a number of successes in the natural treatment of troubles like sterility and mastitis on rare occasions that they have arisen.
In everything the greatest care is taken to treat the cattle with quietness and consideration, to treat them as living creatures, not machines.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A RED POLL
The Breed Standard Description
The Red Poll is a dual-purpose animal, the breed was evolved to combine the production of the very highest standard of beef with a satisfactory milk yield. Accordingly judging should aim at deciding the best combination of these qualities. Moreover an obvious deficiency in one cannot be counterbalanced by superlative excellence in the other.
ColourRed, but white on the udder or the end of the tail is permissible.
HeadThe head must be polled.
NoseThe nose should be flesh-coloured. Should it be blue or black, this constitutes a disqualification.
The cow should have a fine head and neck.
Her back should be level, with the tail long and thin and set on level with it.
Her loin should be wide and her hips evenly rounded and not too prominent.
Her body should be deep, with ribs well sprung, the legs being at the four corners and set well apart.
She should be a good mover on short legs. Her hindquarters should be long from hip to aitch-bone and not patchy at the rump ends, the buttocks being deep and well-fleshed down to the hock.
Her forearms and half-legs should be well developed. She should be thick through the heart and her brisket should be deep, wide and forward.
Her skin should be fine and soft to the touch.
Her udder should be well developed but not pendulous and should come well up between the hind legs, and run well forward.
The teats should be of moderate size set evenly at the four lower corners of the udder and pointing to the ground.
The milk veins should run well forward along the belly.
A similar description to that given for a cow applies to a bull; except for the reference to the head and neck, and to the udder.
A bull should be a decidedly masculine type with a strong head and neck, a powerful chest and well-developed rudimentary teats.
He should be a good over on short legs and his testicles should be flesh coloured and hang evenly. Any white patch is a disqualification; any white hairs other than on the tip of the tail, constitute a fault.
by S. MAYALL
I started milk production in 1923 with a mixed herd, mainly non-pedigree Shorthorns. It was two years later at the Dairy Show that I had my first introduction to Ayrshires and was greatly impressed by their dairy-like qualities. This was the year when the championship was won by that great cow Millantae Mayflower. A few years later I was in need of some tuberculin-tested heifers for autumn calving; I made my first trip to Scotland and came back with two truckloads. The next year's experience with these confirmed me in a love for the Ayrshire which has increased with time and to-day I own over 300 and another 200 in a partnership.
What a lovely animal the Ayrshire cow is with her graceful horns carried so proudly on a fine head; what other breed has that style and carriage? She has a straight back, fine horns and an udder that is the envy of all with its great capacity and perfect shape, coming right forward under the belly to complete the under-line and sweeping out behind and well up. The beauty of Ayrshires has done much to attract new breeders (for the last three years new members have joined the Herd Book Society at the rate of three a day) but in the long run a breed must stand or fall on its commercial qualities and herein the Ayrshire also excels.
We often hear it said that there are too many breeds of cattle in this country and though at first sight it may seem to be so, it must be remembered that we have very diverse conditions in different districts and that the various breeds have been developed as being especially suitable for the conditions of their native district. The Ayrshire comes from the south-west of Scotland, mostly high-lying land, much of it poor, exposed to the elements and requiring stock which is hardy and able to stand adverse conditions and yet able to give a generous supply of rich milk. From these beginnings has been built up a breed of reasonable size, with a low maintenance requirement, very economical in food conversion and a clean grazer.
Milk was mainly used in Scotland for cheese production and the cattle were bred to give milk especially suitable for this purpose with the smallest fat globules of any breed. This has its advantage to-day when most milk goes for liquid consumption and it is believed that the small fat globules makes Ayrshire milk the most digestible of all for children.
What I Want from Ayrshires
Management of the herd falls into two parts, long-term planning including breeding and day-to-day management. In this we have never sought herd record yields as they can only be attained by methods which are bound to react unfavourably on the health and well-being of the herd. A calf every year, steady milk production and a long working life are what is wanted. No herd improvement is likely when culling has to be done at the dictate of disease and infirmity and when all the heifers born are required for herd replacement; I can truthfully say that this herd has made great strides towards our ideal since I reached the position of not having to take into the herd each year more than 50 per cent of the heifers reared.
The aim has been 1,000 gallons at 4 per cent butterfat for the third-calf cow and this aim has very nearly been achieved in the last two years over which period the cows of two lactations upwards have averaged just over 1,000 gallons at 3.9 per cent butterfat.
At the same time I believe that we must not neglect type though there are many breeders to-day who believe that performance is all that matters. In considering type it is not easy to decide which points have economic importance and which are purely fancy, but twenty years ago I fixed in my mind the picture of the Ayrshire cow that I wanted and took great trouble to find a strain which could be line-bred to produce her. The first principal herd sire was Bargower Rehearsal 45291 whose dam was Bargower Silver Bell 18th. When Silver Bell 18th was at her prime I regarded her as the perfect Ayrshire cow. She was a Supreme Champion of the Highland Show and gave
1,024 gallons at 4.29 per cent
1,237 gallons at 3.86 per cent
1,314 gallons at 4.51 per cent
1,233 gallons at 4.60 per cent
The ability to stand a long and useful life is a point to watch in breeding. The dam of another sire, Bargower Home Pride, Bargower Silver Bell 17th; lived to be seventeen, having given over 10,000 gallons of milk at over 4 per cent butterfat (part unofficial records). The dam of the sire of this bull also lived to seventeen years, so I hope that the daughters now calving will prove to be long-wearing. That some success has been achieved in regular breeding and long life can be seen from the photograph of Pimhill Sarah heading a line of five generations see plate 2. At the time when the picture was taken she and all her descendants had completed twenty-three lactations in the herd, averaging 1,158 gallons.
How We Get It
The central feature of the management of the herd is the organic farming of the land which contributes 95 per cent of the food required in the form of organically grown crops. The balance of food which is bought consists almost entirely of fish meal, beans, bran, beet pulp and seaweed meal. Except for a few outlying fields the land is under a six-course rotation, winter corn, roots or silage, spring corn followed by three years' ley containing deep-rooting species and herbs. The corn is nearly all dredge corn, a mixture of wheat, oats, barley and beans for stock feeding. A large amount of compost is made and all manure goes through the heaps, including that from 250 to 300 pigs; no artificial manures are used. Grass is preserved by both drying and the making of silage, both pit and stack. Grazing is controlled by electric fences. In winter the dried grass and silage provide maintenance and 1-1/2 gallons of milk. The remainder of the production ration coming from the home-grown dredge corn with the addition of the bought foods mentioned above. After Christmas a very small quantity of mangold or fodder beet is given; the amount is too small to affect the ration but it adds to the variety of food and the cows look eagerly for it.
Milk is bottled on the farm for sale to a retailer and so it is important to maintain a reasonably level supply throughout the year. For this reason the first heifers are calved down about the middle of July and they continue through to mid-November by which time there is only a stray one or two left. The cows start in September and carry on through the winter until March. I like to calve down the heifers at between twenty-seven and thirty-three months as far as this is possible and they are never pushed for production before or after calving. The present-day custom of evaluating a bull by the first lactations of his daughters, whilst giving the earliest possible knowledge of the bull which is in itself desirable, does tend, I am sure, to encourage breeders to force their stock for high yield at an age when they are least fitted to stand it with unfortunate results on productivity and wearing qualities later in life.
Finally a word on the bulls; three things are regarded as of major importance in managementexercise, feeding and interest. Exercise may be provided by daily walks, by tethering out or at least by provision of an exercise yard attached to the bull house. In feeding, the ideal for bulls is little and good; too much bulk makes him lazy and slow to serve; before and during a season of heavy service my bulls receive 1/2 lb. fish meal and 1/4 lb. seaweed meal or cubes as part of their daily ration. By interest I mean that the bull-pen should be so situated that the bull can see out freely and so have some interest throughout the day; it is best of all if he can see the cows pass by at milking time. Nothing is so conducive to bad temper as solitary confinement. Regular quiet handling is also a part of the routine.
A good herd is a man's livelihood and hobby rolled into one, and what if we do have a few disappointments, there are always the bulling heifers coming along. We count our progress with thankfulness, certain that next year we shall show the world! My Ayrshires have taught me much and given me many happy hours in the learning.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN AYRSHIRE
Head points ForeheadBroad and clearly defined 2 HornsFine at base, set wide apart inclining upwards 1 FaceOf medium length, clean cut, showing facial veins 2 MuzzleBroad and strong without coarseness 2 NostrilsLarge and open 2 JawsWide at the base and strong, meeting evenly 1 EyesModerately large, full and bright 2 EarsOf medium size and bright, carried alert 1 ExpressionFull of vigour, resolution, and masculinity 2 -- 15 Neck Of medium length, somewhat arched, large and strong in the muscles on top, inclined to flatness on sides, enlarging symmetrically towards the shoulders, throat clean and free from loose skin 4 -- 4 Fore Quarters ShouldersStrong, smoothly blending into body with good distance through from point to point and fine on top 3 ChestLow, deep and full between and back of fore legs 5 BrisketNot too prominent, and with very little dewlap 2 Legs and FeetLegs well apart, straight and short, shanks fine and smooth, joints firm, feet of medium size, round, solid and deep 2 -- 12 Body BackShort and straight, chine strongly developed and open jointed 5 LoinBroad, strong and level 4 RibsLong, broad, strong, well sprung and wide apart 4 AbdomenLarge and deep, trimly held up with muscular development 4 FlankThin and arching 1 -- 18 Hind Quarters RumpWell set in, level and long from hooks to pin bones 2 HooksMedium distance apart, proportionately narrower than in female, not rising above the level of the back 2 Pin BonesHigh, wide apart 3 Pelvic BonesWide 2 TailFine, long and set on a level with back 1 -- 10 Thighs, Legs and Feet ThighsMedium, long and wide apart LegsStraight, set well apart, hocks wide apart, point of hocks not to incline towards each other, shank fine and smooth FeetMedium size, round, solid, and deep, not to cross in walking 16 -- 16 Scrotum Well developed and strongly carried. Rudimentaries, veins, etc. Teats of uniform size squarely placed wide apart and free from scrotum; veins long, large, tortuous with extensions entering large orifices 2 -- 2 Colour Red of any shade, brown or these with white, mahogany and white, black and white, or white; each colour distinctly defined 2 -- 2 Covering SkinMedium thickness, mellow and elastic 4 HairSoft and fine 2 -- 6 Character CarriageGeneral appearance and style active, vigorous, showing strong masculine character; temperament, mild 10 -- 10 Weight At maturity, from 1,500 lb. upwards 5 -- 5 Total 100
Head ForeheadBroad and clearly defined 2 HornsWide set on and inclining upwards 1 FaceOf medium length, slightly dished, clean cut, showing veins 2 MuzzleBroad and strong, without coarseness, nostrils large 2 JawsWide at the base and strong, meeting evenly 2 EyesFull and bright, with placid expression 2 EarsOf medium size and fine, carried alert 1 -- 12
An animal which has been cleanly and neatly dehorned, and whose head shows true Ayrshire character, shall not be penalized
Neck Fine throughout, throat clean, neatly joined to head and shoulders, of good length, moderately thin, nearly free from loose skin, elegant in bearing 3 -- 3 Fore Quarters ShouldersLight, good distance through from point to point but sharp at withers, smoothly blending into body 2 ChestLow, deep and full between and back of forelegs 2 BrisketLight 1 Legs and FeetLegs straight and short, well apart, shanks fine and smooth, joints firm. Feet medium size, round, solid and deep 2 -- 7 Body BackStrong and straight, chine lean, sharp and open jointed 4 LoinBroad, strong and level 2 RibsLong, broad, wide apart and well sprung 4 AbdomenCapacious, deep firmly held up with strong muscular development 3 FlankThin and arching 2 -- 15 Hind Quarters RumpWell set in, wide, level and long from hooks to pin bones, a reasonable pelvic arch allowed 2 HooksWide apart and not projecting above back nor unduly overlaid with fat 1 Pin BonesHigh and wide apart 2 Pelvic BonesWide 2 TailLong, fine, set on a level with back 1 -- 8 Thighs, Legs and Feet ThighsMedium, short and wide apart LegsStrong, short, straight when viewed from behind and set well apart; hocks wide apart, point of hocks not to incline towards each other, shanks fine and smooth, joints firm. FeetMedium size round, solid, and deep, not to cross in walking 15 -- 15 Udder Long, wide, deep, but not pendulous, nor fleshy; firmly attached to the body, extending well up behind and far forward; quarters even; sole nearly level and not excessively indented between teats, udder veins well developed and plainly visible 15 -- 15 Teats Evenly placed, distance apart from side to side equal to half the breadth of udder, from back to front equal to one-third of the length; length 2=1/2 to 3-1/2 inches, and not less than 2 inches, thickness in keeping with length, hanging perpendicularly and slightly tapering, and free flow of milk when pressed 5 -- 5 Mammary Veins Large, long, tortuous, branching and entering large orifices 5 -- 5 Colour points Red of any shade, brown or these with white, mahogany and white, black and white, or white; each colour distinctly defined 1 -- 1 Covering SkinOf medium thickness, mellow and elastic 3 HairSoft and fine 2 -- 5 Character CarriageGeneral appearance and style; alert, vigorous, showing strong character; temperament, mild 5 -- 5 Weight At maturity, from 1,000 lb. upwards 4 -- 4 Total 100
by GEORGE EUSTACE
When I started at Tregotha, Hayle, in west Cornwall, I wished to devote my main energies to spring cabbage, broccoli, and early potatoes as the land and climate were ideal for these. In order to support this policy I wanted a breed of cattle which were hardy and did not need pampering; which could give me an economic milk yield of a high butterfat, and which could produce steers for yarding. I chose South Devons and have never regretted that decision. My family has bred South Devons for more than half a century.
While arriving at this decision I examined the past history of the breed and was impressed more by the potentials the breed had to offer than by its past history. South Devons had been used mainly by tenant farmers for centuries, and no constructive breeding had been done, neither had any rich people attempted to improve the breed above the general level.
The only improvement came from the general farmer in his own way, by rearing a bull from his own best cream and butter cows. The farmer's relations or neighbours would probably know his herd as well as he did himself and would buy or ask for a bull out of a certain cow. In that way the slow but steady improvement in the breed must have taken place, and I assume that during that span of time the farmer's income was derived mainly from cream and butter as ready cash and store and fat cattle with which to pay the rent.
Little emphasis or importance was placed on milk yields, except by the producer retailers who lived close to the towns and kept 'flying' herds. They came into the local markets and bought the best milking and uddered South Devon cows, and after milking them for one lactation then graded them out. In this way such farmers must have got through from between 300 and 500 potential thousand gallon cows each year, and their breeding value was therefore completely lost to the breed. As an example of this the Supreme Champion cow at the London Dairy Show in 1930 was saved from that fate by the well-known breeder Mr. George Wills who outbid a dairyman and got her for £42 at Totnes Market. Against this background I found herds averaging over 900 gallonsand some over 1,000 gallons; I found South Devon cows walking away with the Supreme Championship at the London Milking Trials; and I found a very great demand for the South Devon steers by the Midland graziers and feeders. In fact when I chose South Devons fifteen years ago I decided they possessed collectively those attributes, each of which other breeds were attempting to acquire individually in their own cattle.
Since I commenced with South Devons the breed has improved considerably, although it is only in the past few years that the general farmer has started to support this improvement policy. Other breeds have to breed for improvement, which is a long-term policy, but South Devon owners need only improve their management in the first instance in order to obtain a greater return from their cattle. My own neighbours, the Lello Brothers, placed their herd in charge of a good cowman at the end of February 1948, and their milk sales in March and April over the last four years were:
1946-7 1947-8 1948-9 1949-50 March 511 894 1,213 1,587 April 581 1,155 1,280 1,762
These production figures were obtained from the same cows, and in the last year the herd has been increased by the addition of two home-bred heifers.
Mr. R. W. Darke, of Kingsbridge, in Devon, also changed his management, and placed his herd in charge of a good cowman at the end of 1947, and obtained the following herd averages:
1946 1947 1948 1949 7,662-1/2 lb. 7,801-1/2 lb. 10,963-3/4 10,249 lb.
Again these figures resulted from the same number of cows, and no new cows were bought in to replace poor milkers.
These are only two examples of what can be done to the breed by management. On the other hand Mr. C. Nielsen of Devonshire has shown what can be done by breeding together with good management. He has been line-breeding and his first batch of heifers have just finished their first lactations averaging 1,160 gallons at 4.58 per cent butterfat. Such performances place South Devons right in the top of the pure dairy breeds, and this without counting the added asset of first class beef stores, and 4d. per gallon extra which some breeders are now able to get for their quality milk.
My own farm is only 82 acres of medium loam and it is split into the following:
I take two crops a year from some fields, for instance, I plant my potatoes at the end of April and harvest them in June when I then plant broccoli, which I finish cutting by the beginning of April.
Most of my corn is dredge. My usual rotation is ley, broccoli, corn, spring cabbage, broccoli and then to corn undersown.
I keep 55 South Devons on this small intensive farm, which rather discounts the adverse criticism that they require unlimited grazing. I have fifteen cows and followers and shall feed out about eight good steers.
47. The Ayrshire bull
48. The Ayrshire cow
I recently graded two at £79 each, which weighed nearly 14 cwt. at under three years and were given 'Special'. Another I graded weighed 17-3/4 cwt. at two years nine months, was given 'Special' and for which I received £102. This had been to the Fat Stock Shows and therefore had received slightly better treatment than the others but he did show what can be done by a little extra feeding in addition to grazing.
My herd average last year was 583 gallons for seven cows which included two which had been transferred as nurse cows after giving less than 200 gallons. My heifers averaged 7,031 lb. 'Tregotha Daisy' has just given 9,142-1/2 lb. in 310 days with 4.63 per cent butterfat on eight tests. 'Tregotha Rose 4th' has just given as a heifer 9,852-1/2 lb. in 365 days, and she gave four gallons at the London Dairy Show in 1949. Another heifer, 'Tregotha Gem 3rd' has just finished with 7,235-1/4 lb. in 309 days at 4.49 per cent over seven tests.
My herd is not treated as a dairy herd, and I use quite a number of my cows as nurse cows in order to rear many calves. These nurse cows are taken out of my milking herd as and when required quite irrespective of type or milk yields, which is a practice not conducive to high herd averages. In the past I have done this in order to rear as many calves as possible as they trample a lot of muck and this is required for my other activities.
I have decided, however, to follow the example of many of my fellow breeders and to manage my cows in keeping with higher milk yields. I am hoping my next year's average will then be between 800 and 900 gallons.
In 1947 I exhibited at the London Dairy Show and won first for Heifer Inspection and third in the Milking Trials. In 1948 I won two first prizes for Inspection and a second in the Milking Trials, and in 1949 I won two second prizes for Inspection and a third in the Milking Trials. At the 1950 Devon County Show I won the Western Morning News Challenge Cup for the best dairy cow. My herd has been attested since 1946 and we have never had even a doubtful reactor, inclusive of the initial tests.
My South Devons have played their part wonderfully well, and this in spite of the fact that they have always taken second place to my other farming activities in respect of their milk production. But I have always been careful with my breeding and type, and therefore know that I have the material with which to achieve a 900-gallon herd average. One of the misfortunes of this breed is that they are so docile and hardy and require so little pampering that they are too often left to carry on themselves. Even then they do a good job and in 1949 the official herd averages were only just below 700 gallons.
With decent treatment or in the hands of dairy farmers this average could easily go to at least 800 gallons after one year of management for milk production.
49. The South Devon bull
50. The South Devon cow
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SOUTH DEVON
Scale of Points
General Appearance points 1. General Symmetry, wide, deep, well-balanced with good lines. Colourmedium red 10 2. Evenness of flesh, quality, hide of moderate thickness, loose and mellow to the touch 7 -- 17 Head 3. Head, feminine, clear cut (face not narrow) and of medium length; eyes full; nose flesh colour, with wide expansive nostrils; ears of medium size 4 4. Horns, white or yellow, not coarse, slightly forward and drooping 2 -- 6 Neck points 5. Fine but strong, fairly long, clear at junction with head 2 -- 2 Fore Quarters 6. Shoulders, covered at the points, medium distance through from point to point, neat on top, smoothly blended into body 3 -- 3 Body 7. Chest, deep, wide between and behind forelegs, no depression behind shoulder blades 3 8. Back, level with loin, strong and wide 3 9. Ribs, deep, carried well back, nicely sprung, giving a capacious barrel 4 -- 10 Hind Quarters 10. Hips, fairly wide, but not prominent 2 11. Rounds, medium 2 12. Rump, wide, long and level. Tail neatly and evenly set in and of good length 4 -- 8 Legs and Feet 13. Well apart, short; shanks fine and clean, feet good 4 -- 4 Milk Vessel 14. Udder, skin thin, soft and elastic, hair fine and silky; udder long, wide and deep, extending well up behind and far forward, quarters even and fleshy 26 15. Teats of medium size, evenly placed, well set and uniform 15 16. Milk veins, prominent and well developed and large milk wells 9 -- 50 Total 100
General Appearance 1. Straight top, good underline, deep short legs, symmetrical 10 2. Hide medium, mellow, pliable. Hair medium red, soft and curly, even fleshed 6 3. Alert, active. Forceful action, head and ears well carried, good 'character' generally 4 -- 20 Conformation 4. Headbroad, medium length, eyes full, nose white, horns 10 --yellow or white, ears medium size. Neck, medium length 10 5. Legsshort and straight, wide apart; chest full, wide and deep. Girth large and full, shoulders not too heavy 10 6. Backstraight, loin broad, level and thick 16 7. Barrelbroad, deep, capacious. Ribs long, well back and well sprung and even fleshed. Flanks full, even with under-line 12 8. Hipssmoothly covered, width in proportion to other parts. Rump medium length, wide and level. Rounds deep. Legs squarely placed straight and short 8 9. Sound testicles, long and good size 'teats' and squarely placed. Tail well placed and long with good brush 8 10. Rich medium red in colour, soft curly hair, hide medium, loose and mellow 6 -- Total 100