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Ayrshire Cattle

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AYRSHIRE "CATTLE. The Aryshire are undoubtedly a composit breed and of compara ti(ely modern date, originating in the county of Ayr, Scotland, whence their name, and within the last sixty or seventy years disseminated gen erally throughout England and Ireland, where they are generally esteemed for their superior milking qualities. Importations were made into the United States over forty years ago. Of late years superior specimens have been introduced over the East and West, and where handled, they have given general satisfaction.. Their his tory 'and characteristics is as follows: Alton, in his Dairy Husbandry, speaks of the cattle which occupied Ayrshire fifty years before the time, when he wrote (1806) as follows: The cows kept in the districts ,of Kyle and Cunningham (dis tricts of Ayrshire) were of a diminutive size, ill fed, ill-shaped, and yielded but a scanty return in they were mostly of a black color, with stripes of white along the chine or ridge of their backs, about their flanks, and on their faces; their horns' were high and crooked; their pile (hair) was coarse and open, and few of them yidded more than three or four Scotch pints (six to eight wine quarts) of milk a day. A. com parison of these points with those presented by the present breed of Ayrshire cattle renders pro bable the conclusion of Youatt, that the stock of that day could not have arisen entirely from the old. It follows, therefore, that the modern breed, like various other valuable breeds of domestic animals, originated in crossing. The question as to the breeds from which it was derived will be briefly considered. Various accounts repre sent that the Earl of Marchmont, sometime between 1724 and 1740, introduced to his estates in Berwickshire some cattle, conjectured (their history was not positively knbwn) to be of the Holderness or Teeswater breed, and, that not long afterwards some of the stock was carried to estates belonging to the same nobleman in that part of Ayrshire called Kyle. But it is not im probable that the chief nucleus of the improved breed was the " Dunlop stock," so called, which appears to have been possessed by a distinguished family by the name of Dunlop, in the Cunning ham district of Ayrshire, as early as 1780. This stock was derived,' at least in part, from animals imported from Holland. The Dunlop cows soon became noted. Rawlin (as quoted by Youatt), vilio wrote in 1794, speaking of. the cattle of Ayrshire, says: They have another breed, called the Dunlop, which are allowed to be the best race for yielding milk in Great Britain or Ireland, not only for large quantities, but also for rich ness and quality. This, though perhaps extrav agant praise, shows that the stock possessed remarkable properties at that early day. It was, indeed, held in great esteem still earlier. In Youatt's Treatise it is mentioned, when speaking of the cattle of Dumfriesshire, that the poet Burns, when he occupied a farm near the city of Dumfries, not content with the Galloway breed, introduced some of the west country cows, which he thought would produce more milk. In the poet's published correspondence allusion is made, in a letter dated November 13, 1788, to a heifer which had been presented to him by the pro prietor of Dunlop house as "the finest quey in Ayrshire." Mrs. Dunlop, it will be recollected, was a special friend and correspondent of the poet. As a further explanation of the preference given by Burns for the west country cows, it may be mentioned that the writer, when visiting Scotland for the purchase of Ayrshire cattle in the year 1858, had several interviews with the poet's sister, the late Mrs. Begg, of Ayr, in one of which she stated that her brother, during his occupancy of the farm of Ellisland, near Dumfries, kept a dairy and made considerable of cheese. His efforts to procure the Aryshire cows show that they had, even at that time, a high reputation for this object. Colonel Le Couteur, in a paper on the Jersey or Alderney cow, published in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, refers to a statement by Quayle, that the Ayrshire was a cross of the Short-horn and Alderney, and adds, himself, that there is consid erable affinity between the two breeds, meaning the Ayrshire and Alderney. Rawlin also says, in reference to the Ayrshire breed: It is said to be a mixture by bulls brought from the Island of Alderney with their own, or the old race of cows. Martin says: At some period or other there has evidently been a cross witki the Durham or Hold erness, and perhaps, also, with the Alderney breed. Prof. Low, in his illustrations of British Quadruped; says: From the evidence of which, in the absence of authentic documents, the case admits, the dairy breed of Ayrshire cows owes the characteristics which distinguish it from the older race, to a mixture of the blood of the races of the continent, and of the dairy breed of Alderney. In addition to the foregoing evidence respecting the origin of the Ayrshire cattle, it should be stated that the present leading type of the breed was formed, in part, by an infusion of the blood of the Kyloe or West Highland breed. This ap peared in the first instance, probably, in what has, been called the Swinley variety. The facts, as authentically obtained in Scotland, on this point, are substantially as follows: Theophilus Parton, of Swinley Farm, near Dairy, Ayrshire, took great pains to establish a herd of what were deemed the best Ayrshire cattle, into which he infused a strain of the West Highland blood, the particular degree of which is not publicly or generally known. The Swinley stock differs from the older Ayrshire cattle in having a shorter head, with more breadth across the eyes, more upright and spreading horns, more hair, and that of a more mossy character, and generally better constitu tions. They are also somewhat smaller boned than old stock, though from their superior sym metry and greater tendency to fatten they are fully equal to the former in weight of Carcass when, slaughtered. The following points given by the Ayrshire Agricultural Association in 1853, as indicating superior quality, will give an idea of the standard of Ayrshire cattle as recognized by the leading breeders: Head short; forehead wide; nose fine, between the muzzle and the eyes; muz zle moderately large; eyes full and lively; horns widely set ' on, inclining upwards, and curving slightly inwards; neck long and straight from the head to the top of the shoulders, free from loose skin in the underside, One at its junction with the head, and the muscles symmetrically enlarging towards the shoulders; shoulders thin at the top; brisket light; the whole fore-quarter thin in front, and gradually increasing in depth and width backwards; back short, and straight; ,spine well defined, especially at the shoulders; short ribs arched; the body deep at the flanks, and the milk veins well developed; pelvis broad and straight; hook (or hip) bones wide apart, and not much overlaid with fat; thighs deep and broad; tail long and slender, and set on a level with the back; milk vessels (udder) capacious, and extending well forward; hinder-part broad, and firmly attached to the body; the sole or under surface nearly level; the teats from two to two and a half inches in length, equal in thickness, and hanging per pendicularly; their distance apart at the sides should be equal to about one-third the length of the vessel, and across to about one-half of the breadth; legs short, the bones fine, and the joints firm; skin soft and elastic, covered with soft, close, and woolly hair; the colors preferred are brown, or brown and white, the colors being dis tinctly defined; weight of the animal when fat tened about forty imperial stones (that is 560 pounds), sinking the offal. As to the annual re turns of Ayrshire cows in dairy produce, Prof. Low says : Healthy cows in good pastures give 800 to 900 gallons of milk in a year. Aiton says 600 gallons a year may be deemed about an average of this breed. And the author of British Husbandry says, in reference to this yield: If equalled, we believe it will not be found excelled by any other breed in the kingdom. Martin says: The milk of a good Ayrshire cow will afford 250 pounds of butter, or 500 pounds of cheese annually. Mil- burn's estimate is, that cows of this breed will give from 600 to 800 gallons of milk in the course of the year, and as much as 260 pounds of butter. Haxton cites many statistics, from which it ap pears that in one dairy of thirty cows the average annual yield of milk was 632 gallons; that' nine' and a quarter quarts afforded a pound of butter, amounting to an aggregate of 274 pounds in a year. He adds: From these data, it appears that the milk of the Ayrshire breed of cows is not only abundant in quantity, but also rich in those substances which constitute excellence of quality, and when with these qualities is consid ered the small amount of food consumed, the re sult is so favorable to this breed that few thor oughly acquainted with the subject will refuse to rank the Ayrshire cow among the most valuable for dairy purposes in the United Kingdom: In the competition at Ayr in 1861, for a prize offered by the Duke of Athol, the average weight of milk per day, for two days; from six cows, was about fifty pounds, the cows being milked twice a day. The cow which took the first prize gave an aver age of fifty-seven pounds per day. On this occa sion, the Duke of Athol stated that the cow (then in his possession) which received the first prize at the previous year had given an average of up wards of twelve quarts of milk per day for a year, actual measurement having shown a pro duct of 1,110) gallons in something leas than twelve months. Comparatively few accurate trials have been made with specimens of the breed in this country. One of four imported Ayrshire cows, owned several years since by the late J. P. Cushing, of Watertown (now Belmont), Mass., gave in one year 3,864 quarts of milk, beer measure. One of the cows, imported by the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agricult ure, in 1837, while kept by the late• E. Phinney, Esq., of Lexington, Mass., was said to have af forded sixteen pounds of butter per week, for several weeks in succession. The imported cow, Jean Armour, owned by H. H. Peters, of South boro', Mass., in 1862, gave an average of forty nine pounds of milk a day for 114 days, com mencing June 1; and for the month of July her average was fifty-one pounds thirteen ounces per day. Her milk for three days in July yielded six pounds of butter. Her live weight at the close of the trial was 967 pounds. It will be understood, from what has already been said, that the dairy is the leading object with the breeders of Ayrshire cattle. At the same time the important fact has not been overlooked, that to breed and perpetuate a profitable dairy-stock regard must be had to hardiness and strength of constitution, and also to such fattening tenden cies as will insure a profitable return from calves fattened for veal, from steers reared fof beef, and from cows, which, having served their turn in the dairy, are at last dried of their milk and prepared for the shambles. The impordnce of

these properties is not sufficiently regarded by keepers of dairy stock in this country. Even if milk were the sole object, it would be imOossible to preserve a breed possessing superior qfialities in this respect, without giving attention to those points of form which denote strength of constitu tion. It has been well observed by Maine that in the breeding of dairy stock we should make choice only of animals possessing the two-fold character of general vigor and activity of the mammary system. These principles have been followed to a considerable extent by the leading breeders of Ayrshire in Scotland. Hence they claim a high rank for the breed in reference to gen eral usefulness. Alton, in speaking of what the Ayshire cow says she yields much milk. and that of an oily or butyraceous, or caseous nature, and after she has yielded very large quantities of milk for several years she shall be as valuable for beef as any other breed of cows known; her fat shall be much more mixed through the flesh, and she shall fatten faster . any other. Whatever may be said in regard to the extent of these claims, it will be admitted that they indicate the confidence which Haxton observes, for all medium soils and climates throughout the United Kingdom, there is no breed equal to the Ayrshire for profit, whether the produce is converted into cheese, butter or veal. Scotch farmers, who are in the practice of fattening stock of various breeds, state that Ayrshire steers at the age of three to three and a half•' years' fatten to as much profit as any, reaching the weight of 700 to 800 pounds (the four quarters), and affording be6f excelled in quality only by the West Highlanders and Galloways; two of the most superior for beef of any in England, quality being the test. Among the totter class of Ayrshire breeders any animal showing a disposition to feed instead of to milk is immediately disposed of, and even those bulls are preferred having the most feminine character about the head. The system was long ago placed in the breed in regard to the properties mentioned. Youatt, who wrote twenty-five year after Alton, says: The breed has been much improved since Mr. Afton described it. In the early part of the century Mr. Youatt made this remark, and since that time the breed \has been still further improved in reference to general usefulness. It is the unani mous testimony of the most experienced breeders in Scotland, that while nothing has been lost on the score of dairy properties, considerable has been gained in hardiness and thrift, and in the faculty of giving a greater return 'both in milk and flesh, for the food consumed. The common course in Scotland with calves of the Ayrshire breed that are not wanted for keeping up the dairy stock, is to fatten them for veal, or turn them for beef at an early age. The larger por tion, perhaps, of the males are killed for veal. In some districts the fattening of calves is an object of , considerable importance, and the superiority of Ayrshire cows for producing the best quality of veal is acknowledged. Thus of keeping and rearing also conduces to increase their disposition to milk. The calves are never allowed to suck their dams, but are fed new milk for five or six weeks, at the end of that time it is gradually diminished for two or three weeks longer, when the calf is left to shift for itself. After the first year the heifers are gener ally turned upon the poorest, coarsest pasture on the moor-edge where the sedgy grass contains so little nutriment that to satisfy their hunger they are obliged to consume a large quantity of it; this bulk of food, of course, enlarges the paunch, distending its walls and the belly plates of the young animal, and producing the large belly the Ayrshire farmer so values. The heifers usually calve at two and a half to three years old, though some are in milk at two years old. The usual yield of the cow is from thirty to fifty pounds of milk per day, producing in the season about 150 pounds of butter, or her own weight in cheese, as the phrase is; though we think 375 to 400 pounds would be nearer the average. (These are good results, and would be even to-day.) Youatt, in his account of the Ayrshires, gives much greater products as being obtained, and no doubt instances are found of such extraordinary yields. We quote a few of his figures: An Ayrshire cow may be reckoned to yield two hundred and fifty-seven pounds of butter per annum, or five pounds per week, all the year 'round. Six hundred and fifty gallons of milk is called an average yield of a cow, making four hundred and thirty pounds of cheese, or one hundred and seventy-five pounds of butter. This was the average of a herd kept near a town, and highly fed and well cared for, and this would, no doubt, exceed the average of dairies. Thirty six quarts per day have been milked from a cow, and twenty-eight quarts from a three-year-old heifer, and this last for six weeks after calving. Though this breed are chiefly celebrated for the dairy, the oxen work kindly, and the steers can he turned off at three years old, weighing seven or eight hundred pounds. Curiously enough, there seems a lurking tendency in them to fatten, whether resulting from the short-horn cross; or from their natural vigor, it is impossible to say, but it is certain that when transferred to the fertile pastures of England or of America, they are apt to lose, in a degree, their extraordi nary milking property, and begin to lay on flesh, and the time of their remaining in milk is shortened when removed from their native pastures. The illustration we give of a mature Ayrshire cow will not only show the form of this breed, but that of deep milking cows generally. It will be a good place here to notice in relation to milking qualities some general characteristics, which will applylo all dairy cows. Thus we find that the usefulness of any dairy cow is in her udder, and toward the udder, its shape and its yield, all the capabilities of the cow should be directed. This will apply to all milk breeds. Viewed as a reservoir for the milk, it must be large and capacious, with broad foundations, extending well ' behind and well forward, with distant attachments; broad and square, viewed from behind; the sole level and broad; the lobes even-sized, and teats evenly distributed; the whole udder firmly attached, with skin loose and elastic. Such a form gives great space for the secreted milk,, and for the lodgment of the glands, while allowing the changes from an empty to a full vessel. The glands should be free from lumps of fat and muscle, well set up in the body when the cow is dry, and loosely cdv ered with the soft and elastic skin, without trace of flabbiness. Such a covering allows for exten sion when the animal is in milk, while the glands are kept in proximity with the blood-vessels that supply them. • The necessities of the lacteal glands are larger supplies of blood from which milk can be ,secreted, and this harmonizes with the demands of the udder as a store-house For broad attachments means broad belly or abun dance of space for the digestive organs, from which all nutriment must originate. ? The blood is furnished to the glands of the udder by large and numerous arteries. As secretion is depend ent on the freedom of supply of blood to the part, and a copious flow, we find branches com ing from different arterial trunks and freely anastomosing with each other. Although these arteries are internal and out of sight, yet fortu nately the veins which carry the blood from the udder pass along the surface, and from their size and other characteristics indicate not only the quantity of blood which they carry away, but which must have passed through the glands from the arteries. These return veins pass both backward and forward. Those passing forward are known as the milk veins, and the size of these superficial veins on either side of the belly, ' and the size of the orifices into which they dis appear, are excellent points to determine the milking probability of the cow. Still better is it to lnd, in addition, the veins in the perineum, which also return from the udder, prominent and circuitous. The escutcheon is now gener ally conceded to be a good indication of milk in the cow. This mark is sufficiently well known not to require description in detail. I think the broad escutcheon is full as good a sign as a long one; that quantity or quality means more than shape, yet I will not discard the shape entirely. One error must, however, be avoided. It may be well to compare the size of escutcheon of cows of one breed, but never to compare the size of escutcheon in cows of different breeds. I think this point means more relative to size in the Ayrshire than in the Holstein or Dutch; and I am certain, that, while it may be safe to follow it in the Ayrshire in the majority of instances, it would be equally unsafe to adopt it in selecting a Short-horn, for the obvious reason that that breed has been bred for generations for other puposes than the dairy. The udder. and its de pendencies, the milk vein and the 'escutcheon mark, may be considered the foundation of the Ayrshire cow. These notably influence profit, as they also do the shape of the body and the form of the animal. The milk vessel is placed in the pubic region of the cow, and is pro tected on either side by the hind limbs. The breadth of its attachments secures breadth of the body, and the weight requires also a depth of quarter and of flanks. The breadth below requires breadth of hip above, and length of bone here appears related to length of pelvis. So much for the physical portion. The physiologi cal functions of milk-producing demands a great and continuous flow of blood, for it must not be forgotten that milk is blood, so to speak. This flow is dependent on the supply of food, and on the facilities of digestion. To gain this a large body is required in order to hold the suitable digestive organs. To gain further 'room for these, .we desire to see arched ribs, depth, yet no heaviness of flank, and the breadth of hips which we see was also required for the broad udder. To sustain this body, a strong, firm back is needed. To gain the most of our blood after it has absorbed the chyle from the digestive organs, reason shows that it should find its way freely and speedily through the system on its labors of supply and removal, cleanse itself in the lungs, and again pass on to its duties. All this points to a healthy heart, not cramped, and lungs of sufficient capacity; for the yield of milk drains much nutriment from the system, and the con stitution must needs have the vigor given by healthy and active heart and lungs. In this way, then, the chest is correlated with the udder. The reproductive functions require hook bones of good size, and a broad pelvis desirable, as under. lying which are the generative organs. Thus, the necessities of the body of a good milking cow require the wedge shape,' and this not only from the flank, but also when it is viewed from above.

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