Monday, March 22, 2010

Types of Cows

  This animal has a capacious barrel and an unusually large heart girth. She lacks the stimulation necessary to use her food for producing milk. This is shown by her lack of udder, thick withers, thick covering of flesh over the back, and general smooth, beefy appearance.  
  This cow has so strongly developed the tendency to produce milk that she uses the greater part of all the food she can eat and digest for this purpose and carries no surplus flesh. Her withers are thin and sharp, and her back and pelvic region angular and bony. Her udder is also well developed.
A cow should be expected to carry somewhat more than her normal flesh for a short time after calving, but this beefy appearance should disappear within a month or less.

Dairy Temperament

  It should be understood that it is natural for a cow to fatten considerably toward the end of her milking period and when dry. This surplus fat is usually lost during the first three or four weeks after calving. It is impossible to fatten a high-class dairy cow with any ration during the best part of her milking period, or even to keep the fat that is on her body at Oalving time from being removed during the first few weeks she is in milk.
  The cow that shows these characteristics to a marked degree is said to have a good dairy temperament. This means she is endowed by nature with a strong stimulation to produce milk, and uses practically all the nutrients she can digest for milk production. This accounts for the spare form and absence of any surplus fat, even when the animal evidently has abundant food. As a result of the above, a high-producing cow when in milk is usually thin and sharp over the withers, her backbone strong and prominent, and her hips and pelvic region stand out almost free from flesh.
  When the cow is dry, or nearly so, she should carry more flesh than when in full flow of milk, and she should not be criticized on this account. The breed type should be taken into account as well, and the mistake avoided of judging all by the same arbitrary standard.thin a month or less.
Friday, March 19, 2010

The Dairy Conformation

 The body of the dairy cow should be angular in shape as viewed from the front, the side, and over the top or withers. This angularity or sharpness of points has been commonly spoken of as the wedges. Angularity and sharpness of withers are associated with dairy production and are in contrast to the fleshy, well-rounded, and rectangular form as found in the beef type.

The Dairy Form

 The modern high-producing dairy cow is a result of selective breeding. This means that her ancestors have proved their productive ability and that they approach the breeder's ideal of good dairy form.
Their function has been to produce large quantities of milk, and observant breeders have found that this function demands that the animal be so formed that she has the bodily equipment to carry on the work of milk secretion (production).
Breeders have found that certain characteristics of form are always associated with high productive ability,and they consider these features in selecting their breeding stock. First among them is the general shape of the animal.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The General Characteristics of the Dairy Type

 "Type," in this connection, refers to the conformation of the animals which indicates or suggests the purpose it serves. A person familiar with cattle in general, but not with highly developed dairy cattle, looking for the first time upon a high-class dairy cow in full flow of milk would have his attention especially directed to three points as follows:

1. The extreme angular form, carrying no surplus flesh, but showing evidence of liberal feeding by a vigorous physical condition .

2. The extraordinary development of the udder and milk veins.

3. The marked development of the barrel (body) in proportion to the size of the animal.

 These three points should be kept in mind as describing the special characteristics of the dairy animal in comparison with those bred for beef, or with inferior dairy animals. Sometimes the error is made of attributing this lack of flesh, so characteristic of a good dairy cow, to insufficient feeding. The dairy cow does not, however, have the same appearance as an animal not of the dairy type that is in thin flesh because of insufficient feed. A high-class dairy cow never carries much flesh when in full flow of milk. The stimulation to produce milk is so strong that all the feed she can consume and digest above that needed for maintenance is utilized in producing milk. Such an animal, although thin in flesh, has an alert, vigorous appearance, her hair is soft and healthy, her skin pliable and loose, her eyes are bright, her paunch is full, and a general appearance of thrift and contentment is noticeable. An animal thin in flesh on account of insufficient food has a stupid appearance and shows a lack of vigor, while the rough, long hair stands on end. The paunch may be large or not, depending on the bulkiness of the feed consumed by the animal.
Monday, March 15, 2010

The dairy type

  There is but one entirely satisfactory way to select cows for dairy purposes, and that is by records of production of each individual, as determined by the use of scales for weighing the
amount of milk and the Babcock test for measuring the amount of butterfat in the milk. Official testing of pure-breds and cow test association, or dairy herd improvement association work, have made commendable progress during the past decade; but there are still vast numbers of cows used for dairy purposes on which no tests for milk and butterfat production have ever been made. In determining the value of such animals for dairy purposes the estimate must be based upon conformation (shape or build), or the degree to which the animal approaches what is known as the dairy form or type. While such estimates may be very inaccurate, the
development of the function of milk production through generations of selection and breeding in that direction has brought about certain characteristics in the conformation of the animal that may be taken into account in judging of the development of these functions. 
  The breeders on Jersey Island in 1834 formulated the first scale of points for dairy cattle. At the present time the breeders' associations have prepared for each breed a carefully drawn scale of points that are of assistance in acquiring a skill in the selection of cows by conformation. A scale of points undertakes to describe the conformation of the animal that, in the judgment of the author, denotes the highest development of the characteristics sought. The comparative importance of the parts described is represented by points that total 100 for the perfect animal. The lack, up to the present time, of a real scientific basis for preparing a scale of points makes them unsatisfactory in many ways, but they are of great general value, especially to the beginner.

Origin of Cattle

 There are no cattle native to America. All those found in North and South America are descended mainly from animals brought from Europe. The domesticated cattle of Europe are descended from wild forms that originally lived in Europe and Asia.

Market Value of Breeds

 Cows of a distinct dairy breed usually - and rightly - sell for more than the same number of cows of mixed or unimproved breeding, even if the latter are known to be equally good as dairy cows. The cows of a distinct dairy breed are worth more to the buyer, because he can reasonably expect these animals to show the typical character of the breed to which I.hey belong in production of milk, in. disposition, and in other breed characters. A cow of mixed breeding, even if a good dairy cow, or an unusually good milker in a breed where milking qualities are not generally found, cannot be counted upon to reproduce herself in her offspring. It is a well-known fact in animal breeding that the longer a certain character has existed in a breed, the more certain it is to be transmitted.
Sunday, March 14, 2010

Classification of Cattle

 Various classifications of cattle have been made, some based upon geographical distribution, as lowland and mountain cattle, others upon their anatomy, especially the shape of the skull, and others as to their domestic use. Today American writers arrange them according to the economic value as beef breeds, dairy breeds, and dual-purpose cattle.
 No system of classification has yet been devised that can be applied in more than a general way to the individuals that make up the great mass of cattle. If we undertake to arrange them by breeds, we find, in addition to the numerous pure breeds, animals With all possible mixtures of the blood of two or more breeds, or with more or less improved blood mixed with the scrub, or unimproved. If we should attempt to arrange them according to the purpose for which they are adapted or kept, we would have a constant gradation from the extreme beef to the extreme dairy development.
It is difficult even to arrange a suitable classification of the pure breeds, since the animals may vary greatly within a breed on account of environment and treatment. The following descriptive terms are in common use:
 Scrub.  A scrub is an animal of mixed or unknown breeding, without the type or markings of any recognized breed. Other terms used with practically the same meaning are native, mongrel, or unimproved, as well as other names of a local character, such as "piney woods." These terms indicate that the animal has only a small amount of the blood of any of the improved breeds. Typical scrubs are not numerous except in those sections where very little attention is given to cattle raising. The term "scrub" is often applied also to inferior animals of recognized breed type.
Cross-bred is a term used to indicate that the animal is the off-spring of parents of distinct breeds, either high grades or pure-bred.
 Grade.  This term is generally used with a certain breed name, as Grade Jersey or Grade Shorthorn. This means that the animal in question has one-half or, usually, more of the blood of the breed mentioned. When the proportion of the pure blood is large, the animal is called a "high grade." The proportion of the blood predominating may be so great that for all practical purposes the animal is the same as a pure-bred; but it cannot be called a pure-bred, no matter how many crosses have been made, and such animals cannot be registered in any of the various herd books.
 Pure-bred.  The term "thoroughbred" is often improperly used for the proper term, "pure-bred." The term thoroughbred is properly applied only to the well-known English breed of horses. Pure-bred cattle, as understood in America, are those whose ancestors came from the native home of the breed in question and conformed to the requirements of this breed here. This blood must have been kept pure and unmixed, and records must be available showing the descent from these ancestors. The records of descent of these animals are kept in a systematic manner by associations formed for the purpose by those interested.
The breeds of cattle common in America are usually classified as dairy, dual-purpose, and beef.

Shorthorn, Red Polls, Polled Durham, Devon
Holstein, Ayrshire, Jersey, Guernsey, Brown Swiss
Shorthorn, Hereford, Aberdeen Angus, Galloway

 In addition to the above, small numbers of French-Canadian, Dutch Belted, Kerry, and polled Jersey cattle, all to be classed as dairy breeds, are found in certain localities of America.
Friday, March 12, 2010

Inheritance Value of Breeds

 The breed is only one of many factors to be considered in carrying on profitable milk production. In some cases the value of the breed is overestimated, but more often the reverse is true. Our present dairy breeds represent the efforts toward improvement in certain definite lines made by several generations of breeders. It would be folly for a man to attempt to start at the beginning to build up for himself what has taken a century or more for others to build. By making use of animals of a highly developed breed, adapted to the purpose for which they are to be used, he is taking advantage of all the work that has been done and starting at the highest point of advancement reached by other breeders.
 Pure breeds have been bred generation after generation with certain objects in view, and in the course of time these characters I income fixed as breed characters, and are transmitted. It is easy to understand why the chances are good for getting a good dairy cow if the ancestors are the Holstein — known to have been bred about 2,000 years in one locality and noted for hundreds of years as great dairy animals — or if the parents are Jerseys, bred for 500 years, or longer, along one line.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Principles of Livestock Improvement

 The methods developed and emphasized by these pioneer breeders are essentially the same as those followed today; careful selection of breeding animals, liberal feeding, and general good management. Bakewell was the first to understand and practice in-breeding and line-breeding as a means of fixing desirable characteristics. A certain amount of crossing was also done in the early history of some breeds — with the Ayrshire and the Shorthorn, for example.
 At the present time the efforts of cattle breeders are directed toward further improvements in the breeds already in existence and not towards the establishment of new breeds. The reason for this is the realization that breeds are now in existence that are adapted to practically any conditions under which cattle may be profitably kept. Furthermore, to develop a new breed with as well-established characteristics as those already in use would require more than the lifetime of a man, and would not be financially remunerative. There is every indication that we probably will have fewer breeds in the future.

The Bos sondaicus Type

 Cattle of this type were brought into southern and eastern Europe during the great migrations that took place and were spread over the greater part of that continent. At that time these cattle were small in size, and short-bodied, and had small horns. From this type probably most of our breeds in use today are descended, including the Brown Swiss, Jersey and Guernsey. However, the  Shorthorn and Ayrshire, while having this type as a foundation, were probably mixed in the early days of the breeds with the blood of the Bos primigenius type, through crossbreeding principally with Holland cattle.

Original Types or Species

 Although there is a wide divergence of opinion concerning the origin of domesticated cattle, most investigators of the subject agree that the cattle of Europe are descended from two original types or species. One is called the Bos longifrons by some authors, while other authors use the term Bos sondaicus. The second type is known as the Bos primigenius.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Origin of Breeds

 A breed is a recognized further well-defined subdivision of a type or species. The number of breeds and sub-breeds of cattle is great. On the continent of Europe alone between forty and fifty distinct breeds are described by German and French writers. Great Britain is the home of eleven breeds, which have been imported to the United States, and in addition to this as many more minor breeds are described by English writers as of local importance.
 With few exceptions these numerous breeds have been long established and historical records are not available to indicate their definite origin. One exceedingly important factor, however, was the ancestry of the breed as between the two forms of wild cattle from which our present domesticated forms are descended. This difference in origin is presumably the greatest factor in causing the wide differences between the Holstein and the Jersey breeds — these two representing better than other common breeds the two lines of descent from the original wild forms.
Monday, March 8, 2010

The Bos primigenius Type

 This type originally was an immense, powerful animal, standing six to seven feet high at the withers (the ridge between the shoulder bones). The horns were long and slender, curving forward near the middle and ending with the points slightly upwards. This animal was apparently domesticated in northern Europe. From it are descended the cattle of Holland and other parts of North Europe.
 The most fundamental difference between the two original forms of cattle was the shape of the skull, and this difference is still evident in modern breeds. The Bos primigenius was characterized by a long, narrow head. This type of skull is well illustrated by the modern Holstein, whose long narrow head is taken to indicate descent from the original long, narrow form. The remains of the Bos longifrons, or the sondaicus type, show a broad short head, which characteristic is best illustrated by the short broad head of the typical Jersey.