Page images
PDF
EPUB

The constitution of the governing body was further extended to comprise representatives for the whole of Scotland, including the three Scottish colleges of agriculture. More complete arrangements were made for the extension, direction, and supervision of milk recording and the revision of the records by the association's staff. From this point onward further improvement in organization, administration, and methods of recording was gradually effected. As a result dairy farmers at home and abroad have shown the greatest confidence in the authenticity of the records, and have readily offered greatly enhanced prices for good animals with good official milk records, or milk record pedigrees.

PRESENT METHOD OF RECORDING.

A distinctive feature of milk recording in Scotland is that the records are entirely the work of trained official recorders. Recorders must first undergo a special course of training in milk recording at an approved college of agriculture. Only candidates of good character and good general education are selected to attend these courses; and all recorders before appointment must be approved by the executive committee of the association.

Dairy farmers taking advantage of the association's scheme are arranged into local milk recording societies. The local society appoints a representative to the membership of the association for each recorder employed. The number of members on a recorder's circuit varies according to the interval between tests; 16 is the full number for tests at intervals of 21 days, including the surprise check tests, or double tests.

The local society applies to the association for license to conduct milk recording under the association's scheme, and must conform to the association's rules and regulations. The local society selects and appoints its recorder or recorders from the list of approved recorders obtained from the association. Apparatus, chemicals, byre sheets, and record books are arranged for by the association, and uniformity of method is assured.

The association allocates grants to local societies on a definite scale as follows: (a) The hire of the necessary milk-testing appliances free of annual charge, the local society to maintain the apparatus in good condition; (b) an annual grant of 50 shillings to each new member in his first or second year, and of 15 shillings to each member in his third or fourth year; (c) an annual grant of 11 shillings per member toward the cost of surprise check tests.

The association also supplies free of charge all byre sheets and record books and, inter alia, regularly supervises the recorders' work and the recording generally, revises and corrects all byre sheets and record books and certifies the records. The annual monetary outlay per member is comparatively small, the average subscription being not more than about £6 per member after the fourth year for an arerage herd of about 40 cows.

The official recorder visits each herd at irregular intervals, generally from 18 to 23 days. He, or she, arrives at the farm in the afternoon, usually by means of a small pony and trap provided for the purpose, and is accomodated at the farm overnight. All cows in the herd giving milk must be included in the records. Each cow must be clearly distinguished in the byre by a stall number on the wall immediately in front of, and above the level of, the cow, and must also be indelibly tattooed on the ear with distinctive registered tattoo markings. The cows must be milked in the same rotation, evening and morning. The recorder weighs and samples the milk of each cow in the evening, noting the exact time at which each cow is milked. He takes up a position in the byre as near to the milkers as possible, so as to have them in full view, and as far as practicable receives the milk direct from the milker at the cow's side. He again weighs and samples the milk of each cow in a similar manner in the morning. The recorder then tests the mixed evening and morning sample for each cow by the Gerber method for percentage of milk fat. He enters in the byre sheet any unusual conditions likely to affect the milk yields. The recorder is required to see that all milk samples and byre sheets are securely locked up overnight or during his absence.

From the daily results the recorder calculates and completes the byre sheet, multiplying the yields by the exact number of days which have elapsed since the last test, but so calculating throughout that each day of visit is regarded as the middle day of the period covered by the test.

The byre sheets are written out in duplicate; the principal copies are posted at regular intervals to the offices of the association, and the carbon copies left with the respective members. The recorder transfers the results from the extended byre sheet to the milk record book for the herd indelibly in ink, each cow being assigned a separate page, at the top of which full particulars of the cow are entered including the indelible tattoo marks. All byre sheets are carefully revised and corrected in the association's offices and a list of the necessary corrections sent to each recorder,

Visits of inspection are made to each recorder and to the members of local societies at the different farms periodically throughout the year by members of the assocation's staff, and a report thereon submitted to the executive committee. The executive committee reserves the right to withdraw approval of any recorder at any time, or to limit the period of service of any recorder with any particular local society. Members of local societies deemed to be guilty of conduct injurious to milk recording may be temporarily or permanently suspended.

Another distinctive feature in Scotland is the surprise check tests, the records of each herd being checked in this way two or three times in each year. The recorder is instructed by letter or telegram from the superintendent on any date to remain at the same farm another day and make another complete 24 hours' test. The surprise test results are entered on special buff-colored byre sheets, and in the record book in red ink immediately below the results of the test of the previous day. The buff byre sheets are posted to the association's offices with the other byre sheets, and any abnormal difference is immediately noted and reported to the executive committee. As a

result of this system of surprise check tests, each page of the milk record book contains two or three lines of entries in red, comparison of which with the immediately preceding entries provides valuable evidence of the genuineness of the milk record.

In addition to the surprise check tests made by the recorder, a number of independent surprise tests are made by the association's staff, in order to check the recorder's work.

The record books are closed at the end of December of each year and new books are opened, current lactations being carried forward to the new books. Summary sheets are written out in duplicate showing the total milk yield for each cow for the lactation or part lactation, with full particulars of the cow, dates of calving, etc. The principal body of the summary sheet is posted to the association's offices with the record book, and the second copy is left with the owner of the herd. All record books and summary sheets are carefully revised, corrected in detail, and initialed in the association's offices, the record books being returned later to the respective members and the summary sheets retained and bound for future reference.

The milk records are next classified into three groups on the following basis. A useful comparison is obtained by reckoning the yields at their estimated equivalent of milk of 1 per cent of milk fat. Such a comparison takes into consideration both the quantity and the quality of the milk. Cows with a milk record equivalent to not less than 25,000 pounds at 1 per cent of fat, and heifers with not less than 20,000 pounds at 1 per cent of fat, are grouped into Class I. Cows and heifers with milk records of less than two-thirds of these quantities, namely, 16,600 and 13,300 pounds respectively, are grouped into Class III. All cows and heifers with milk yields between these limits fall into Class II.

The association publishes an annual report, giving full details of the work of the association and of each milk recording society during the year. From these reports any owner may see how his nerd compares with other herds in the same or in any other district, the improvement in his own herd from year to year, and the progress made in the herds of members generally.

An important feature of the association's annual report is the register of good-milking cows, or Class I cows, with the names and addresses of owners and full particulars of the milk records. This register is further restricted to animals which have completed their lactations before the end of the year and given birth to another calf before May 1 of the year following. Full particulars of each record are given. The register is of considerable value to all interested in the breeding and rearing of animals off the best milking strains. and for reference.

EXTENT OF MILK RECORDING.

The following table shows the extent of the development of milk recording in Scotland from the commencement in 1903, as far as numbers are concerned, the effects of war conditions, and the recovery since the cessation of hostilities:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][subsumed][merged small]

Official recording has become an essential routine in 700 breeding herds in Scotland, and the number is gradually increasing from year to year.

EFFECTS OF MILK RECORDING IN SCOTLAND.

It is quite evident to those familiar with the dairying industry in Scotland that the important objects of the promoters of milk recording are being steadíly realized. Good progress has been made in eliminating the poor-milking or unprofitable cows and in increasing the proportion of good-milking cows and the average annual milk yield per cow. A distinct improvement from year to year is also noticeable in the average fat percentage of many of the tested herds.

The following table shows the average annual improvement for all herds tested from 1914 to 1922, inclusive. It should be noted that a considerable proportion of new herds, or herds tested for the first time, were included each year; also, that while the breeds represented include Ayrshires, British Friesians, and a few herds of Jerseys, Shorthorns, Red Polls, and cross cows, the great majority were Ayrshires, the Scottish native dairy breed, and the Ayrshire being a smaller cow requires less food. It is claimed for the Ayrshire cow that she consumes less food relative to milk yield.

TABLE II.

[blocks in formation]

The proportion of good milking cows and heifers to the total animals tested has increased from 392 per cent in 1914 to 63 per cent in 1922, while the proportion of obviously unprofitable animals

has been reduced in the same period from 9 per cent to 2 per cent. This improvement in a total of over 26,000 cows represents a very large increase in the volume of milk produced in recorded herds in Scotland.

Taking the 100 herds with the highest percentage in Class I in 1921, we find that of 2,970 cows and heifers the average proportion in Class I was 92 per cent, and the average proportion in Class III was only 0.6 per cent.

In selecting the 100 best individual cows for season 1921 from the breeder's point of view, or for inherent or hereditary milking properties, attention has been confined to cows which actually produced another calf in not more than 13 months from date of calying preceding opening of record under consideration. The average yield of the 100 selected cows was 12,070 pounds of milk of 3.87 per cent milk fat in 44 weeks. The 100 cows included 75 Ayrshires, 18 British Friesians, 6 cross cows, and 1 Shorthorn.

Improvement from milk recording in Scotland is not confined to the herds actually tested under the scheme of the association. Stocks bulls off heavy-milking strains in the better-known milk record herds have been widely distributed annually among untested herds at home, and a large number have been exported.

INFLUENCE OF MILK RECORDS ON PRICES OF CATTLE.

In recent years milk recording in Scotland has had a remarkable effect on the prices of good milk-record cows and their progeny at both public and private sales. Auction sales of young bulls and other milk-record stock at the instance of well-known breeders have become common when the milk records or the milking pedigrees of the animals are stated in the catalogue of sale. Something still depends upon appearance, but if in addition to good appearance there are also good official milk records for the animals or for the dams or grand dams the prices obtained are almost fabulous compared with prerecord days. Space forbids detailed reference under this heading, but prices as high as 470 guineas, 1,352 guineas, 1,510 guineas, 1,700 guineas, and 1,780 guineas have been paid for young Ayrshire bulls, while whole herds have been disposed of at dispersal sales at average prices far above what could be obtained for ordinary nonrecorded dairy stock.

In view of the great influence of official milk records on the commercial value of dairy animals in recent years the general body of breeders in Scotland concluded that milk records should be taken into account in the judging of dairy cattle at cattle shows. As a result of a mass meeting of breeders and others interested, held in Ayr in 1919, a new standard of judging was agreed to, whereby a maximum of 35 points out of a total maximum of 100 points was to be reserved for allocation according to a definite scale for authen

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »