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The fore leg should be short and straight, large and powerful above the knee, but small and bony below. The bosom should be broad and full, with a prominent brisket, but the shoulder points should not be protuberant. The neck will be muscular, and with the head and horns will present a masculine appearance—not too coarse and yet not fine and delicate like a heifer. If we have not here some indications of masculine vigor, we may expect the animal, whatever his other merits, to be defective in constitution, and that he will never realize the expectations of the breeder. These characteristics must not, however, be confounded with a beavy, ill. shaped head, sunken eye and large dew-lap, indicating bad temper, bad feeding qualities and bad blood. The head and neck, though stout, should be well proportioned—the eye full and sprightly, the horn, though some what thick, should not be too large, nor ill-shaped. The hide must be soft, elastic, and of medium thickness, with hair long, abundant and soft.
Such an animal, with straight back and abdomen ("straight top and bottom," as breeders say), and a round, plump appearance in all points, cannot fail in making the most wonderful improvement upon a herd of good common cows.
The cow should exhibit the same points exept the hips, which we expect to be relatively larger, and the shoulders, neck and head, which should be much lighter and finer. Indeed the head and shoulders of the cow can not well be too fine, as this form indicates good milking qualities, superior flesh and good feeding properties. It is, of course, desirable that the cow as well as the bull should be pure bred, but where this is not practicable, common animals as nearly the shape above indicated as possible should be selected. They should be round and plump in form, not long in the leg, with a full eye and pleasant and feminine expression.
A cow with a bad temper, defective form or of bad feeding qualities, should never be used as a breeder.
As to the relative size of the male and female, it is insisted by most writers that if one be larger than the other, it must be the female. In breeding horses I am disposed to think that this rule should be observed, that if a large horse is bred to a small mare, the progeny is apt to be illshaped and not well proportioned. But from considerable experience and observation, I have become satisfied that breeding large bulls of good proportions to small cows, is not productive of bad results. The offspring, while much larger than the dams, has been as perfect in form as when the parents were of equal size.
I have also bred the large Leicester buck to the comparatively small Southdown ewe, with equally satisfactory results.
In support of this opinion, and also to prove the value of Durham balls to cross upon other and smaller breeds, I quote a communication from the British Farmers' Magazine: "A friend of mine had about a dozen North Devon cows, small in size but nice in quality, and from these he commenced about twenty years since, breeding with Shorthorn bulls. He has since invariably used these bulls. With each succeeding cross the stock have rapidly improved in every essential, and the only trace of the Devon which I could perceive when I last saw them, was a peculiar richness in their color. He breeds about thirty annually, and generally sells his three year olds in Autumn at £17 to £22 ($85 to $110) and I have known him to sell in-calf heifers to jobbers in pairs as high as thirty guineas ($150) each. All his stock are superior milkers. Here we have had twenty years experiment and continued improvement." The same writer says: "I have seen many excellent beasts bred from shorthorn bulls and long horn cows; indeed I have never seen one of these bulls bred to any cow where the product was not superior to the dam."
It is difficult to keep a breeding bull in pasture; they usually become breechy, so that the practice is getting quite common to keep them in the stable, a practice, perhaps as economical as any, and certainly the least troublesome. I have known instances of bulls being placed at twelve months old in a lot enclosed with a strong post and rail fence, in which was a shelter for winter, and never taken out, to continue quite to an old age. This is perhaps the best practice. If the bull is kept in the stable, it is desirable that he should have some exercise daily-being led out twice a day a few rods to water will be beneficial. A bull should have very little service until two years of age, and should not be used after old age has begun to influence his condition. He should be in full vigor and health. All breeding animals should be well kept, because condition is to some extent inherited by the offspring. The produce of animals habitually in low flesh are not apt to be good feeders.
For the same reason, the calf must have a good supply of natritious food; for the first three or four months it should have twelve quarts of milk a day. It should also have an abundance of grass, or if this can not be had, when the animal is six weeks old, some meal, bran or oil cake should be fed, and continued until it is weaned, which may be at the age of four or five months. The progress of the calf will be much more satisfactory if the supply of milk is diminished gradually for some weeks before it is finally weaned.
The change from the highly concentrated nutritious food farnished in the milk of the dam, to the more bulky and less nutritious grass or hay, must
not be too suddenly made, nor at too young an age, or it will produce an unnatural distention of the abdomen, causing the young animal to appear ill-shaped and paunchy;" and this form, with the unthrifty habit thus occasioned, usually continues through life. The bran or meal should be continued through the first winter; the expense will not be much greater than if hay were fed exclusively, while the rapid growth of the animal will give a very large profit on the increased expenditure.
With this management a steer calf will be worth at a year old three times as much as the average of the calves raised according to the system usually practiced. Common calves at this age can usually be had for $5 or $6, and are really worth little if any more than the same animals, well kept, would be worth at four months old; while steers at this age, (12 months) of good blood and kept as here recommended, will readily sell for $18 to $20.
The difference in the value will be nearly three times the difference in the expense. In the one case the amount expended is a clear loss, in the other it yields a large profit. Plenty of good grass through the next summer will bring the yearling in high condition into his winter quarters; and he will be able to maintain this condition tolerably well through the next winter on hay or corn-fodder alone. But a little grain may be very profitable fed towards spring, as it will prepare the animal for a more rapid growth upon the grass of the next summer, at the close of which the steer, if of good blood, will upon this treatment weigh from 1100 to 1300 lbs, and worth in ordinary times from $30 to $40. In January, 1864, my attention was called to a sale of a lot of grade steers 20 months old at $36 each.
Should the breeder conclude to keep his steers another year, they should have the next winter corn in the shock, equal to what is called half feeding, and when there is added to this another summer of good grazing, the animals will be at the most profitable age for sale. They will weigh 1500 to 1700 lbs., and be worth from $60 to $75 each ; while common steers of the same age will not exceed 10 to 1200 lbs. in weight, and be worth much less per hundred. A common steer weighing 1200 lbs. live weight, will scarcely make 600 lbs. of beef, while a steer of good blood in ripe condition weighing 1700 lbs. will produce 1000 lbs. of beef. We have therefore this striking difference in the per cent. of dead weight as compared with the gross weight, in addition to the superior quality of the flesh, in favor of the well fed and well bred steer. And it is to be observed that as these merits are becoming better appreciated, the price per hundred of good cattle as compared with common, is constantly increasing.
The heifers should be managed the same as steers for the first two years, and they should be bred so as to come in at the age of three years; and and if designed exclusively for milking purposes it may be as well that
they should come in at two years. I am satisfied that they make better milkers. The calves should be dropped as early as the month of April, as later calves are not so profitable, especially if designed to be raised for steers. Indeed the calf ought to be old enough to eat grass by the 10th of May, so as to give it the benefit of the whole grass season; for it is to be remembered that the chief profit in this business is to be derived from grazing; and our management throughout should be such as to enable us to avail ourselves of all its benefits. We cannot afford to raise cows to sell for dairy purposes. The prices paid, say from $20 to $30, are below the cost of production. A steer at three years old off, will, as we have seen, sell for $60 to $75, while a cow and calf at the same age, and costing Dearly as much to produce, would bring less than half the amount. We must, however, raise what are required for our own use, and keeping the best, the very best, all the rest we must convert into beef. It does not pay to sell calves to the butcher. The common price in most parts, of Ohio for calves four or five weeks old has been three to four dollars; while the milk consumed, say 12 quarts per day, even at two cents per quart, would amount to seven dollars and twenty cents.
It is bad economy to sell animals at a youger age than two years, as the market price is usually very far below their true value. For example, a fat calf weighing 100 lbs. gross, will make 80 lbs. saleable product-hide and flesh, and ought therefore, as the meat retails as high as beef, to sell for a third more per pound live weight, than a matured animal. But the fact is that they usually sell for much less.
The cost of producing a yearling steer, making a proper allowance for the expense, in part, of keeping the cow and service of the bull, cannot be less than $15; and is probably nearer $20; while the market price for such a steer will not usually exceed $10. But such a steer will, as we have seen, during the next 18 month, with liberal feeding one winter, and good grazing two summers,be made to weigh 1200 lbs., and will sell from $35 to $45; while another year will bring the price from $60 to $75. A lot of several hundred high grade Durhams were sold in Marion county in June, 1863, for $75 each.
It is therefore incontrovertably true that the breeder who sells his steers at 80 young an age as 12 months is engaged in a losing business, while the breeder who breeds good animals, and keeps them to the age of 30 months and over, is conducting a business that always gives a fair profit. And yet notwithstanding this undeniable fact, it is probably true that more than three fourths of all the steers raised in Ohio are sold by their breeders at or under the age of 12 months, or at all events under the age of 18 months.
29 89 69 72 94 108 . 136
4 years 4years 5 years
Farmers do not figure like merchants ; if they did, I am disposed to think that a very large portion of the calves now raised would be knocked in the head and thrown away as soon as dropped. I have said that calves (common ones) are usually sold at $5 or $6 at the age of from 6 to 12 months, and I have shown that this will not pay for the milk they COD sume, to say nothing of the other feed.
To illustrate the advantage of good blood, and the profitable results of high feeding, a statement is here appended taken from the Country Gentle man, of the cost and return of a fat ox: Age. Cost to date.
Live weight 6 days.... $4
84 pounds. 6 months 10 Milk and grass.
Hay, potatoes, and provender. 11 years.
1070 2 years .
Hay and two quarts provender. 1360 21 years
1550 3 years'..
Hay and three quarts provender. 1735 31 years.
2005 Four quarts meal and hay. 2215 ..166 Meal and hay.
Five quarts meal and hay. 2670 54 years..
Six quarts meal and hay. 2710 6 years...
Eight quarts meal and hay. 2815 6 years and 10 months..
Twelve quarts meal and hay: 2840 He was slaughtered at this last mentioned age, and the weight, 2840, was after a fast from food and water of 40 hours, and was sold for $325, nearly 115 cents live weight. His dressed weight was—beef, 2209 lbs; tallow, 190 lbs., hide, 130 lbs; total 2529! He was a grade short horn, light of offal, small boned, and sprightly. He was fed too long for profit; at the age of three to four years he could have been sold at a fair profit upon the entire cost, while the result in the end is seen to have been a small loss.
This illustrates the superiority of those breeds which "carry their growth with their condition," and excel in early maturity.
This statement proves also the important fact already referred to, that in producing beef, the profits are mainly derived from grazing. Undoubtedly this steer was stabled in the winter, and was fed on ground feed, and probably roots, so as to produce the most rapid and economical increase in weight; and yet it will be observed that the increase on grass, in propor tion to the expense, is much the best. And this suggests the propriety of observations in this paper on
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Of course the limits prescribed for this article will permit only a few suggestions of a practical character,